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UK drivers have a bumpy ride ahead

 Published 10th March 2022
Driver Guides  General Guides 

Make a list of all the things that annoy you as a driver. Now have a guess many of you have got potholes on your list. And now that we've mentioned potholes, how many of you have just thought ‘Potholes….!' and added them to your list?

New research from IAM RoadSmart has revealed that motorists still see potholes as the biggest safety issue on Britain's roads even when compared with speeding, road rage, congestion or drink and drug driving. The latest annual Safety Culture Report, which has monitored drivers' changing attitudes to key road safety issues since 2015, found that 79% of UK drivers see potholes as a bigger issue for them than they were three years ago.

That kind of makes sense when you think about it.

Things like speeding and drink-driving are infinitely more dangerous for other road users, but they're also more likely to be isolated incidents whereas potholes are something we all deal with every time we get behind the wheel of the car.

The report confirms this with responses from over 2,000 motorists showing that 90% of them had been affected by potholes in the past year; 32% have even changed route to avoid them, while 16% of those surveyed have even gone as far as reporting a pothole to the authorities.

Potholes can cause significant damage to your car

This can be expensive and inconvenient, but it is also a major safety concern affecting all road users. Potholes can pose a serious risk of injury to those on two wheels, as well as potentially causing drivers to swerve into oncoming traffic.

Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart, commented: “The fact that motorists perceive potholes to be a bigger issue compared to drink-driving and speeding, which cause more deaths, goes to show how much of a problem the pothole crisis continues to be.”

There's a good reason why it's described as a crisis.

Current estimates within the road building industry suggest that there are more than 42,000 miles of UK roads classed as being in poor structural condition. The price for bringing them all up to a level which they could be maintained cost effectively going forward would be an estimated £11.14 billion. We're guessing that it buys a lot of gravel and tarmac, but it doesn't take a genius to know that level of investment is never going to be forthcoming just to fill in all the holes.

These figures are also reflected by the attitudes shared in IAM RoadSmart's Safety Culture Report around the country. No matter where you live it seems potholes are a significantly bigger issue now than three years ago. Drivers are suffering from pothole problems every day and it is adding to the stress and cost of running a car. As the figures clearly show, there aren't many people who think our roads are in better condition now than they were three years ago.

How much more of a problem are potholes compared to three years ago?

Region Percentage
Wales 84%
North-West 83%
South-West 82%
East Midlands 82%
West Midlands 81%
North-East 81%
Yorkshire and Humber 81%
Scotland / Northern Ireland 80%
South-East 79%
East of England 78%
London 69%

It seems London is paved with pothole-free gold…or maybe nobody moves far or fast enough to notice the potholes. Either way, it's a pretty damning indictment of the state of our roads when 80% of drivers can clearly see an issue that needs resolving while the long-promised funding for road improvements fails to materialise.

What happens if a pothole causes damage?

The AA has produced a useful list of what you should do if you hit a pothole. We have outline the main points here.

1. Check for damage
Look for damage, check steering. If anything appears awry get it checked by a garage.

2. Take some notes
If you want to claim either on your insurance or from the council, you'll need some information to back it up. So make notes of where it was, take a photo if safe to do so.

3. Report the pothole
Report the pothole to your local county, city or borough council so they can fix the hole. Motorways and A roads in England are managed by Highways England or by Traffic Wales in Wales. You can report potholes in Scotland online to My Gov Scotland and in Northern Ireland on the NI Direct website.

4. Repair your car
Get several quotes first - but check with your lease provider if you need to get the car repaired at an approved repairer.

5. Make your claim
You might be able to claim compensation from the council for the cost of any repairs to your car. Write to the council with details of when the incident happened, where it was and the cost to you for repair. And hopefully you will get a positive response. And don't forget to appeal if your first attempt is rejected. Councils have a duty to keep roads in good order.

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