It’s that time of the year again. The freezing weather is damaging our roads yet further, leaving many of them looking like the surface of the moon. Has your car ever been damaged as the result of a pothole?
A couple of years ago, I hit a massive pothole while driving back from work. I was doing around 50mph on a B-road in Bedfordshire when I saw a large crater just ahead. Unfortunately I hit it head-on, causing the car to swerve sharply. But thankfully I managed to bring the car safely to a stop.
Once I got out, I found that my offside front wheel was badly buckled and the tyre was completely flat. I jacked-up the car and changed the wheel, then walked back to the road to inspect the pothole. It was huge.
Clearly it had been there for a while, and I was pretty angry that a pothole that large and dangerous had been allowed to develop. Judging by the number of discarded hubcaps lying around, I can’t have been the only one to have hit it!
Dig yourself out of a hole
Thankfully I’d been in a car, but had I been on a motorbike, the consequences could have been dreadful. I knew I wanted to claim compensation for the damage to my car and that I’d need evidence. So I took photos of both the pothole and the damage it had caused to my wheel before gingerly driving home, as I wasn’t sure if there was any damage to my suspension too.
I contacted my local garage the next day, which ordered my car a new wheel and tyre for £120. I then wrote to the council to claim compensation, and included hard copies of the photos, an explanation of what had happened, a map of where the hole was and copies of garage receipts. I also urged them to fix the pothole as soon as possible, as it clearly represented a danger to other road users.
To give credit where it’s due, the council wrote back fairly swiftly to say they had passed my letter on to their insurers and, when I drove along the same road a few weeks later, the pothole had been repaired. About two months after that, I received a cheque for the full £120.
The pothole problem – £22m in pothole compensation
We’ve just conducted an investigation into the state of our roads in different parts of the country. Using data provided by local councils, we found there’s something of a postcode lottery when it comes to the quality of your local roads. Across England and Wales as a whole, we found that councils paid road users a huge £22.8m in compensation for damage caused by potholes in 2012.
However, we also found that the backlog of road repairs in England is only getting bigger. Since 2009, the backlog of pothole repairs alone has grown from £53.2m to £61.3m on average per local authority.
On top of this, it’s estimated that it would cost an enormous £12.9bn to clear the entire road maintenance backlog in the UK. Find out how your part of the country is fairing using our infographic above (click to enlarge).
So the pothole situation is getting worse. But what state are the local roads in where you live? Have you ever damaged your vehicle on a pothole and, if so, did you manage to claim compensation?