“The pothole epidemic has become nothing short of a national embarrassment”
That’s what a recent report by The AA said earlier this year. According to many councils, a pothole is defined as a road defect causing immediate risk and hazard, and is at least 40mm in depth.
The ‘pothole epidemic’ in the UK is posing an increasing risk to motorists and cyclists alike, so we’ve rounded up useful information to enable you to report them, what to do if you hit one and how we can help.
Why are potholes in the UK becoming so frequent? The first question on many people’s minds, is why have we ended up in this situation in the first place?
Potholes are caused when water seeps into cracks in the road, freezes and expands, and then the weakened road eventually caves in. They often come in seasonal bouts: winter brings wet and cold weather, and then spring brings fresh potholes.
There are a number of other contributing factors that make UK roads more susceptible to potholes than other European countries:
- We have a 25+ year history of poorly maintained roads, and the cumulative effect of this now means potholes are happening at a faster rate.
- The UK has far higher volumes of traffic than other European countries, meaning our roads are literally under more pressure.
- We keep drains and other services underneath roads unlike other places, and we also give utility companies the freedom to dig up roads in order to maintain these services.
What should you do if you notice a pothole? The most important thing to do if you notice a pothole is to report it to the council. It’s also useful to take photographs of the pothole you are reporting (if safe to do so). The more awareness and knowledge local authorities have of where potholes are the more efficiently they can be dealt with.
If you’re not sure how to find the right place to report a pothole, visit the Government’s portal.
How to avoid hitting potholes. In the same AA Report quoted earlier in this article, the company said it had dealt with more pothole complaints by May 2018, than in the whole of 2017. That’s a lot of cars becoming damaged and cyclists being thrown over handlebars after going over potholes! Here are some useful tips to help you avoid any costly vehicle damage:
- Be vigilant after bouts of heavy rain and avoid puddles
- Keep your tyres maintained, especially in the winter
- Pay attention to drivers ahead of you
- Keep a reasonable distance between you and the driver ahead
What to do if you do hit a pothole. If you do hit a pothole, here are some important things to do:
- Pull over safely as soon as you can to inspect any immediate damage and decide if it safe to continue
- Make some notes of what happened and if it is safe to do so take some photographs of the potholes itself.
- When you leave the scene, keep an eye out for other signs of damage such as vibrations, the wheel not centering correctly or the car pulling to one side.
- Take your car to a mechanic as soon as possible to repair the damage, and keep copies of all quotes, invoices and receipts
Where can I get more advice? If you have had to cover costly repairs to your vehicle following going over a pothole and think you may be entitled to compensation, you can contact us for a no obligation, free initial consultation about whether or not you have grounds for a claim.