Enough to Drive Us Potty
Is it a puddle? Is it a crater? Is it a vortex into the abyss? No, it’s a pothole.
Who has been in this situation?
We’ve all been there, out on the roads and a herd of potholes takes us by surprise, causing a loud ‘thump’ and a ‘ka-doink!’ - possibly an ‘ouch!’ too if it gave you whiplash or any other personal injury while driving. Perhaps you’re a driver who always scans the road for potholes and dodges them to avoid ruining your car – but if one gets you, it can be costly.
Our roads in the UK are notorious for potholes - but what about the harm they can do to drivers, accidents they can cause, or the dent they might make in our pockets from having to fork out for car repairs?
According to The Statistics Portal, the number of cars on UK roads increases every year, with around 31.7 million in 2016. This means more wear and tear on roads - increasing the number of potholes. With our recent ice blast from the ‘Beast from the East’ puncturing our roads even more, road quality is on a downhill trend.
Here are some outrageous statistics regarding UK potholes:
- There are more than 1 million reported potholes on UK roads.
- Every year, potholes are costing UK drivers over £1.7 billion.
- Putting all the potholes together would total an approximate depth of 40,456m – the equivalent to three times that of the Pacific Ocean!
- According to ALARM, the maintenance backlog of poor road conditions in England and Wales could take up to 14 years to get sorted and cost around £9.31 billion!
- On average, around £7.3 million was paid out in related compensation claims by authorities in 2017/18.
Who is Responsible for Maintaining Potholes?
It’s the local county council’s responsibility to check and maintain our roads, but due to low funds (approximately underfunded by £1 billion) and criteria differing from council to council, potholes are not always dealt with – at least not with haste. Sometimes the council may deny immediate repairs or believe the size to be not worth fixing.
People often dispute this issue with their council for the sake of everyone’s safety. One person in particular was ‘pothole painter’ in Manchester. He spray-painted obscene images around each pothole so that it would get a reaction from the council. It worked! Potholes were being filled within 48 hours of his comical mastery, but it shouldn’t have reached such extreme measures for actions to be taken.
Should you get into a road traffic accident or sustain an injury because of a pothole - take photos for evidence, but don’t graffiti!
It may be the council’s responsibility to make sure potholes are maintained, but it’s not up to them to ensure you’re driving safely out on the roads.
Who Is At Fault for an Accident Caused by a Pothole?
Just like if you were to slam on the breaks for a darting cat or swerve out the way for a skittering rabbit means you could put yourself and others in danger and be at fault in an accident, sudden movements to avoid potholes could also cause road traffic accidents and be fatal - no one wants to be liable for that.
As a driver, it is your responsibility to pay close attention to the road and keep enough distance between you and the car in front, so that you can spot any hazards like potholes in plenty of time. Therefore, if you did unexpectedly swerve and cause an accident, it’s likely you are the one at fault.
You can report potholes in the UK and claim for damage or injuries caused by potholes from the Council, but there is always room for dispute – for example, “the driver was speeding or not concentrating”. For such situations, you would need a specialist accident lawyer to help you with your case, which we can help you with at Non Fault Claims.
When making a claim for compensation, there are many things to take into consideration: solicitors will analyse each case separately, so depending on your situation, it is difficult to say whether you’d be deemed at fault or not.
At Non Fault Claims, we are here to help with determining who is at fault in a road traffic accident and we’re on hand to provide you with any other information you may need.
8 Ways to Avoid Pothole Damage
1. Maintain alertness: as a responsible driver, you should always be keeping an eye out for hazards and upcoming potential issues on the road. At all costs, avoid distraction, as this will increase your reaction time and you could be diving bonnet-first into a pothole at the last second.
2. Allow plenty of space: you should always keep a safe distance between you and the car in front – this way, you’ll be able to spot any potholes in plenty of time.
3. Watch your speed: while abiding by the speed limits, you should slow down if you see that you’re approaching a pothole or two – you’ll do more damage otherwise.
4. Avoid harsh braking or swerving: if you’re driving slowly in preparation for missing those craters, then you shouldn’t need to break harshly or swerve unexpectedly. If did this, it would increase the risk of damage, having an accident and sustaining an injury.
5. Take the weather into consideration: with our infamously dreary climate, you could be knee-deep in pothole puddles even in July. It’s difficult to judge how deep they are, so be extra cautious on days when there’s been heavy rain. During winter, this issue is rife, as water gets into cracks in the road and expands – the main cause of potholes.
6. Keep a firm grip: this is always important when driving, but if you know you’re approaching a pothole, hold on to the steering wheel extra tightly and in the correct position.
7. Check tyre pressure: you should regularly make sure each tyre is within the recommended tyre pressure range, especially if you have a particularly heavy load. If all is well and good, you’ll have that sufficient protection when coming face-to-face with a pothole and there is less risk of damage.
8. Keep calm: If you suddenly run over a pothole that gives you and your car a firm jolt, the best thing to do it to keep calm and pull over once you see somewhere safe to stop. Make sure you seek medical attention immediately if your injuries are severe, or if possible, take photos of the pothole that caused damage to you and your car. Read here for more advice on what to do if you hit a pothole.
If road craters have driven you potty and left you with that sinking feeling, or if you need any help or advice on non-fault accidents, give us a call today at Non Fault Claims and see how we can help!