8 million vehicles each year damaged by potholes, new figures show
With floods and heavy rain continuing to wreak havoc on the surfaces of Britain's roads, new figures reveal that motorists are paying out over £1 billion on repairs to rectify the damage caused by potholes.
A new study from Halfords Autocentres shows as many as eight million vehicles a year suffer steering and suspension damage which may be attributed to poorly maintained road surfaces - that's one driver affected every four seconds.
The latest numbers show that complaints over potholes have almost doubled from a year ago.
Councils across the country were being notified at a rate of 54 a day in December, a 60 per cent increase on the average for the year, according to www.fillthathole.org.uk
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Rectifying the damage caused by potholes can be unexpectedly costly, with an average repair bill of £135.
Rory Carlin from Halfords Autocentres said: "Even hitting a small pothole can easily damage wheels, tyres and affect steering alignment but serious suspension damage is becoming a more common occurrence.
"From bent anti-roll bars to damaged shock absorbers, the problems are exacerbated by three factors; the inability of local authorities to keep pace with highway maintenance, an aging vehicle fleet more susceptible to damage as drivers keep cars for longer and component complexity, which drives up the cost of each individual repair."
Some regions had far higher incidences of pothole damage than others, with drivers from the North East being hit hardest with a £181 million bill, closely followed by motorists in the Midlands who pay out around £175 million for repairs.
Those areas where drivers are least likely to encounter costly problems are Wales and the East of England, where the repair bills for pothole-related damage are £53 million and £58 million respectively - though lower traffic density, rather than better quality of road surface, may be masking the true underlying threat.
Councils, local authorities and the Highways Agency have a duty of care under The Highways Act to take reasonable measures to ensure that problems such as potholes are found and dealt with swiftly.
However, since the initial cost of pothole repairs is borne by the driver, it is they who must prove the relevant authority has failed to meet this obligation in order to make a claim, which is time consuming and far from straight-forward.
Typically, any driver seeking to recoup repair costs must prove that the relevant authority does not have a robust system for dealing with road surface issues, or that it fails to meet the national recommended code of practice for highway maintenance.
Rory Carlin added: "The funding gap is hitting motorists hard. This is clearly not sustainable in the long term and we are currently looking for ways in which we can help drivers who encounter potholes whilst the authorities remain unable or unwilling to act."
To find out more about how to claim or to report a pothole and potentially save a fellow motorist the same fate visit www.potholes.co.uk