Potholes are the bane of many drivers’ lives, particularly if you live in a more rural area. When it comes to potholes, the best option is to avoid them wherever possible but sometimes it is simply not that easy.
Potholes are a serious problem. In 2021, the RAC was called out to 10,123 pothole related incidents and local authorities face massive bills as they struggle to keep on top of pothole repairs, with 1.7 million potholes filled in the year leading up to March 2021.
Potholes are formed when water seeps in through the road surface and settles under the road. When freezing temperatures are reached, the water freezes and expands, adding to existing cracks. Then, once the ice has melted, continued traffic over the affected area causes the surface to cave into the space left by the ice. This damage is exacerbated by heavy vehicles, which can cause roads to age more quickly.
Should potholes be repaired?
Potholes can cause significant damage, and the onus is on the local authority to repair them in a timely manner. If a pothole is reported and not fixed, and you experience damage as a result, you could be entitled to compensation. However, this is only applicable if the relevant organisation knows about the pothole, which is why it is important that you report a pothole, regardless of whether or not you hit it or cause damage.
Reporting a pothole
To report a pothole, simply head to the government’s website and enter your details.
How much damage can potholes cause?
Depending on the size and depth of the pothole, and the speed that you are going when you hit it, potholes can cause some pretty serious damage including:
- Tyres – potholes can cause a puncture which you may not notice at first but will eventually cause problems. If you hit a pothole, keep an eye on your tyre pressure.
- Steering – a pothole can jar your steering system. If you notice that your steering is not as precise as normal, head straight to your local garage.
- Suspension – a big pothole at speed can easily knock your suspension, break ball joints, struts or shocks. If you notice unusual sounds or vibrations, get it checked out as soon as possible.
- Wheels – potholes can affect your wheel alignment which in turn causes the tyres to wear unevenly and can cause a blowout.
If you hit a pothole
If you see a pothole and you can’t avoid it, reduce your speed and drive as slowly as you can through it. If you hit a pothole and notice impact, make a note of the date and time of the incident, take pictures of the pothole if it is safe to do so, and check your car for damage. This will support your case if you have suffered damage and decide to make a claim.