All you need to know about potholes – facts and figures, avoiding them and driving them!

It's pothole season...

It’s pothole season…

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.

Where you're most likely to make a claim for pothole damage

Where you’re most likely to make a claim for pothole damage

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.

Send us your pothole pics

Shame your council into action by sending us photos of the worst potholes in your area. Send them via or Tweet them on @cdgcars.

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.

5 thoughts on “All you need to know about potholes – facts and figures, avoiding them and driving them!

  1. Lesley Carter

    My son hit a pot hole in West Sussex on route to your garage for a service. He had the Skoda breakdown people out and got him back on the road. He put in a claim to West Sussex council and they refused stating the pothole was a drain cover. The pothole he hit is still there unrepaired (or was up till last week). We get the impression from the letter from West Sussex that they do not hold themselves responsible for any potholes but if you work for the council they will pay out. You need to warn you clients, not to hit potholes in West Sussex as they don’t care what damage is done to people’s vehicles UNLESS they are council workers.

    1. Pete Barden Post author

      Hi – thanks for your message. New research has indeed revealed that West Sussex is in the top five for most claims being made – but it has also hugely cut the amount it agrees to pay out. I think that says a lot!

      1. Carter

        West Sussex Council don’t even know the difference between a pothole and a drain hole. I reported the deep pothole on behalf of my son but West Sussex council decided to repair a drain hole cover that was nowhere near where I reported the pothole. I sent in several photos and maps to show the exact spot but found West Sussex council a total waste of space, they are not interested in damage done to drivers vehicles by their dangerous roads. They need to read a dictionary and learn the difference between potholes and drain holes.

  2. Nash Rich

    That’s crazy that a car is damaged every 11 minutes due to potholes. I can believe it though, I’ve been over quite a few of them, especially during the winter and spring seasons. I’ve been fortunate to not have any damage, that I know of. I should really check my tire pressure more during that time of season. Thanks for the info!


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