Most drivers won’t need convincing that potholes pose a problem on the region’s roads, but many might not realise just how big that problem is. Here are the latest facts and figures you need to know.
Read The Crawley Down Group’s guide to find out all you’ll need to know about the motorists’ blight we all love to hate.
Pothole latest: Updated January 2015
Where you’re most likely to make a claim: Here are the top five counties for pothole claims. Surrey is the where it seems you’re most likely to suffer damage, with the rest of south eastern counties following on. Councils are also paying out less in most cases – despite the huge rise in claims.
Car damaged every 11 minutes
A car is maimed by a pothole every 11 minutes, according to shocking new data from UK councils – yet the authorities are refusing more compensation claims than ever.
The Freedom of Information request revealed that during the last financial year, local authorities dealt with almost 50,000 damage claims – an increase of 2,500 over the previous period.
This equates to roughly one claim being lodged every 11 minutes day and night, 365 days a year. However, the bad news for drivers is councils refused to pay out for damage in 77% cases of damage caused.
Councils also slashed the amount of compensation paid, with the average payout for a successful claim in the 2013/14 financial period falling to just £286 from £357 the previous year.
The average administration cost of each claim – successful or not – was £147, a cut of £2.00 from the 2012/13 financial year.
Facts and figures
Potholes filled: More than 2 million potholes were fixed in England during 2013.
Per local authority: The average number of potholes filled by each local authority in 2013 was 16,041.
Cost per pothole: The average cost to fill a pothole was £52 in 2013
Total spend: Around £100 million was spent repairing potholes.
Frequency: It’s claimed Britain has a pothole for every mile of road.
Most common car damage: Tyre damage (43%), damaged suspension (34%) and damaged wheels (26%).
How to avoid potholes
Avoiding potholes is often an impossible task, but there are ways to cut the risk of hitting one in the first place – or reducing damage if you do. Here are our tips…
Check tyre pressure: Under- or over inflated tyres can increase damage and hit your car’s handling in the event of a pothole strike.
Stay aware: Drop back from the traffic flow – leaving more time to react if you see a pothole, or notice traffic swerving to avoid one.
Beware of puddles: An innocuous-looking puddle could be concealing a cavernous pothole below its dark surface.
Reduce your speed: Sounds obvious, but this is the best way to beat potholes. Slower strikes will cut repair bills.
How to ‘drive’ a pothole
If there’s no way of avoiding a pothole, how you drive through it could reduce damage, or even avoid an accident.
Braking: If you spot a pothole but it’s too late to avoid it, you should brake progressively as you approach it, but release the brakes before you hit the crater. Entering a pothole with brakes slammed on will compress the suspension and force the front of the car into a dive – worsening any damage and increasing your chance of losing control.
Roll: Take your foot of the throttle prior to impact. This is so you ‘roll’ over the pothole and cut the chances of damage.
Avoid the urge to swerve: A violent last-minute swerve could increase damage due to the wheel’s angle as you turn – suspension systems and alloy wheels handle straight on impacts better than bangs from the side – while also risking collisions with other vehicles or road architecture.
10 to 2 rule: Always hold your car’s steering wheel at the correct ‘10 t0 2’ position, but this is especially important when riding a pothole.
Diary of a pothole strike
What happens to your car when you hit a pothole? From potential damage to assessing if your vehicle is safe to drive – here’s our diary of pothole strike.
When: Potholes can strike at any time, but you’re most likely to come across scarred Tarmac during winter months. Rain and freezing conditions provide the perfect breeding ground.
Possible damage: Striking a pothole is most likely to damage wheels and tyres. The impact can cause tears, bumps and blowouts in the tyre, while the wheel can be left buckled, cracked or completely shattered. Other issues include damage to suspension, tracking and wheel balancing.
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PS. If you’re driving around the South East, it’s worth avoiding Holly Lane in Banstead, Surrey – it’s been revealed as one of UK’s worst roads for potholes.