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Focus On: Potholes

It’s that time of year when everything has had a battering from the weather. From extreme cold, to gale force winds, snow, hail and rain; the last four months have seen it all. It is, therefore, no wonder that our roads have been affected. Potholes are becoming more and more of a problem, causing damage and hazards for drivers of cars, vans, lorries, cyclists and motorcyclists.

While it is the local authority’s duty to repair potholes, you can help by reporting them; the more a pothole is reported, the more likely the correct authority will do something about it. Here’s your pothole guide, from causes to avoiding, and reporting.

What causes potholes?

Potholes are caused when water gets into small cracks in the road and forms invisible puddles under the surface. When the water freezes, it expands, causing the tarmac to crack. As vehicles drive over this compromised area, the pothole grows bigger, and deeper. Potholes are a particular problem in areas with rain-freeze-thaw-rain cycles, and wet-dry cycles; in short, they love the Great British weather! However, the rise in potholes in British roads isn’t just the weather; councils are being blamed for cutting corners and patching up potholes instead of properly resurfacing the road.

How much damage can they do?

If you hit a pothole of a certain size when you are going at a certain speed, they can cause serious damage to your tyres, and even cause our wheels to buckle. They can also impact wheel balance and tracking and cause cracked alloys. What’s more, a severe pothole could cause an accident so you should report one if you see one.

Dealing with potholes

You can avoid damage and potential danger from potholes by:

  • Staying vigilant: keep an eye on the quality of the road and reduce speed accordingly; likewise, watch out for potholes on the opposite side of the road, which could cause traffic to veer into your lane.
  • Keep your distance from the vehicle in front so that you can see potholes in plenty of time.
  • Drive carefully; if you do have to drive over a pothole, go carefully ad slowly, allowing the wheel to roll into the hole.

Reporting a pothole

If you do happen to encounter a pothole, regardless of whether or not it damaged your vehicle, reporting it couldn’t be easier:

  • If you want to report a pothole on a motorway or major A road in England, contact Highways England on 03001 235000 or email info@highwaysengland.co.uk.
  • For street and minor road potholes, visit an online third party such as FixMyStreet. On this website, you can enter your postcode, pinpoint the location of the pothole and describe the problem. They will pass your report on to the relevant Local Authority.
  • If your Local Authority doesn’t accept reports from third parties, you will need to contact them directly.

If your vehicle has been damaged, follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Next week, we look at what you should do and how you can claim compensation for pothole damage.

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