Potholes are making millions of motorists’ lives a misery 

potholes and roadworksAfter the long wet winter it’s hardly surprising that that country’s roads need a little TLC, but is the British weather solely to blame for the recent plague pf potholes? Quoteline Direct digs into the real reasons for the proliferation in potholes and asks why motorists are being given a bumpy ride.

What’s the real state of the nation’s roads?

It’s easy to look at the past through rose-tinted glasses, but few would argue that the glamour days of motoring have been well and truly consigned to the history books. Jump behind the wheel today and it’s only a matter of minutes until you hit a pothole, but are the country’s roads really getting worse or are we just moaning more?

A recent report has shone a light on the condition of the country’s local roads and it’s difficult to know where the potholes end and the tarmac begins. The headline that’s grabbed the most attention is the admittedly alarming statistic that 24,000 miles of minor roads need essential maintenance in the next 12 months or could face closure. Put another way that’s enough tarmac to take you half way around the planet.

While central government works hard to maintain major roads and motorways (through Highways England, Traffic Wales and Transport Scotland) the responsibility for the upkeep of minor roads lies with local councils and they simply haven’t got enough money. The ‘one off’ repair bill has been estimated to cost more than £9 billion and it would take 14 years to get the job done.

At the same time local councils are feeling the financial pinch with each authority facing an annual carriageway maintenance budget shortfall of £3.4 million. The situation clearly isn’t sustainable and road users are suffering the consequences. In fact, figures from a leading a motoring organisation suggest that a third of drivers have suffered vehicle damage due to potholes in the past two years.

Why are there so many potholes on the roads?

Lack of Maintenance Years of underfunding has left the country’s roads in a state of disrepair with the decline in spending leading to a decline in standards.

Great British Weather In a country that can experience ‘four seasons in a day’ the weather takes a serious toll on the road network.

Volume of Traffic Half a century ago (when Quoteline Direct was founded) there were ten million cars on the roads, today there are more than 30 million.

Weight of Vehicles Not only have vehicles got bigger and heavier over the years, but they are carrying much greater loads (helped by the boom in online shopping).

Potholes are much more than a mere inconvenience and pose a real danger to road users. It’s thought that poorly maintained roads could be responsible for 10% of accidents causing untold personal injuries and vehicle damage.

What should I do If I hit a pothole?

Limiting the Damage Even when travelling at slow speeds potholes can cause serious damage and it’s a good idea to pull over and check that your vehicle is safe to continue.

Recording the Details Make notes about the incident including precise location and an image of the pothole (including an everyday object to give a sense of scale).

Reporting the Problem Regardless of whether you plan to peruse a claim it’s important to alert the authorities via the government’s appropriately named ‘report a pothole’ page.

Who’s to Blame? The relevant authorities are duty bound to maintain the roads to a safe standard, but they need to be aware of problems before they can be fixed. If you can prove that the authority was aware of the pothole (or have been otherwise negligent) you stand a good chance of getting compensation under Section 41 of the Highways Act. However, Section 58 of the Highways Act provides automatic protection to the authorities by placing the burden of proof on the claimant; meaning that you’ll have your work cut out.

Making a Claim To make a successful pothole claim you’ll need patience, tenacity and the following: a written incident report, supporting photographs including damage, quotes for the repairs and a receipt for the completed work. Once you have submitted everything to the relevant authority you’ll need to wait and be prepared to make an appeal if you are offered a partial settlement or your claim is rejected.

Claiming on Insurance Comprehensive car insurance generally covers pothole damage, but policyholders will need to calculate whether it’s financially worthwhile to make a claim (taking into consideration: claims excess, loss of No Claims Discount and possible impact on premiums). Any significant damage should be reported to your insurer who can provide practical advice about the best way to proceed.

For competitive quotes on comprehensive car insurance, which won’t let you down, visit Quoteline Direct or Tel: 0161 874 8029 to talk with a member of out team.


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