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Drivers in the UK made more than 31,500 claims for pothole damage in the last financial year.
This is an increase from the 28, 971 claims the previous year, and an equivalent to one claim every 17 minutes, according to the latest figures from the RAC Foundation.
The RAC collected information from 204 out of the 207 local authorities in Great Britain and named and shamed Hampshire as the council with the highest number of claims at 1,952. It was followed by Surrey with 1,412 and Hertfordshire at 1,369.
The only council in Great Britain to receive no claims for vehicle damage caused by potholes was the Isles of Scilly. Orkney Council and the City of London also came out well, with just one claim each.
The average value of a claim was £432, which suggests that hitting a pothole hurts your budget as well as your vehicle. Not only are potholes a danger on the road, they can often cause buckled wheels, cracked tyres and alloys, and can knock-out the tracking and wheel balancing.
Cyclists are particularly vulnerable, but a pothole can make it difficult for any driver to keep control of their vehicle, potentially leading to an accident.
Of course a claim made is not the same as a claim paid - and councils paid out in just over a quarter (26.9%) of cases.
In other words, about three quarters of drivers who put in a claim were left out of pocket. Your chances of lodging a successful claim are far higher if the pothole has already been reported, because the council can only be held liable for a defect if it knew it was there.
Reporting a pothole to the local authority
Fortunately, it couldn’t be easier to report a pothole since we’ve teamed up with Street Repairs. You simply enter the location of the pothole and give a few details.
By sending the location and a few notes of the pothole, the site then alerts the relevant council. You can boost your hopes of claim-success by making sure that you take notes or a photo of the pothole and the site, as well as details of any witnesses.
It’s as well to be prepared because there are more than 4 million potholes on the roads. In other words, you are likely to hit a pothole once every 110 metres.
Potholes form when moisture gets into the cracks in the road. The moisture then expands when it freezes. Heavy rain and very cold temperatures obviously don’t help.
But some experts believe that local councils only make the pothole problem worse because of their ‘patch and dash’ approach.
Similarly, additional anger comes from the idea that previous governments have prioritised new road and motorway development, as opposed to focusing on the current roads which require the most attention.
It appears that cash-strapped councils don’t have the funds to repair roads properly and permanently, so they opt instead for a temporary quick-fix.
A total of £6 billion to be spent on repairs
The government recently announced a Pothole Action Fund, pledging £50m a year for the next five years for councils in England to repair potholes. The money will help, but is it enough?
The Local Government Association (LGA) doesn’t think so. It calculates that councils need more than 230 times that amount to cover the £11.8 billion cost to bring the roads up to scratch. The LGA also reckons it would take 14 years to clear the pothole repair backlog in England and Wales.
Devon council has come up with an innovative answer to the pothole problem: it is recruiting an army of volunteers to fill the holes. They are given two days of training, supplied with equipment and sent on their way.
The scheme started in April and, so far, the volunteers have repaired 200 minor potholes.