Potholes: 24% increase in damage to vehicles in 2015
According to the RAC, 2015 saw a 24% increase in the number of incidents to which they were called out involving damaged suspension components or wheels. Road springs saw the biggest single increase over 2014 at 42%. Call outs involving damage to vehicle subframes and wishbones also rose by 10%.
Potholes are caused when moisture gets into cracks in the road surface and then expands when it freezes. The holes get bigger as traffic continues to drive over them.
Many councils adopt a 'patching' approach to the repair of potholes instead of properly resurfacing the road. These 'patches' often breakdown again quickly and the potholes reappear.
George Osborne announced in his Autumn budget that £250 million has been allocated for the repair of potholes over the next five years. However with the waiting list for repairs topping 30,000 potholes and involving an estimated 12, 000 miles of road, this is not going to solve the problem any time soon for motorists.
Prevention for Motorists
Prevention is always better than cure, where possible always do the following to minimise the chance of damage to your vehicle:
- Be aware of the road and look for signs of damage to the road, be particularly careful in muddy or wet conditions where potholes could be hidden under puddles or mud.
- Keep a good distance between you and the car in front to give you the best view of the road
- Watch your speed, even if you hit a pothole, you have less chance of causing damage if you are not going too fast.
- Stay alert - make sure you don't risk pedestrians or other road users by swerving to miss a pothole.
- Do go around potholes if it is safe to do so.
Action if you hit a pothole
- Continue to drive if you feel it is safe to do so. Stop if your steering feels strange or you can hear any knocks or noises you didn't hear before.
- If you do need to stop, pull over in a safe place and make sure your hazard lights are on and if it is dark, leave your side lights on. Call your recover/breakdown organisation or call your local garage to arrange recovery. If there is any possibility of your vehicle being hit by other traffic, get out and stand as far away from it as you can.
- Get your vehicle checked out, most garages will not charge you for this.
It is advisable to report potholes to the local council as this gives councils an accurate view of the problem and help them to prioritise maintenance and repair. Worcestershire County Council have an online reporting facility for road defects.