The worst areas in the UK for potholes have been revealed in new data following a freedom of information request.
The data, obtained by Confused.com, reveals a whopping 905,172 potholes were flagged to councils across the UK in 2017/18, compared to 887,351 the previous year. This works out as almost 2,500 potholes reported per day that year to local authorities, on average.
And as the UK recovers from a burst of icy weather and snow, ‘more and more’ potholes will start to pop up on roads, giving motorists quite the bumpy ride, warns the comparison site.
The scale of the UK’s pothole problem has not gone unnoticed and a poll of motorists, conducted in tandem with the data request, found more than one third (34 per cent) of UK drivers have suffered damage to their vehicle as a result of poor road conditions. One in seven (15 per cent) of those incidents occurred during February.
Most of the damage reported was to tyres (53 per cent), while more than a quarter of survey participants (26 per cent) said hitting the pothole caused damaged to their suspension, which can be costly to repair. This could explain why local authorities have had to fork out more than £2.8 million to compensate victims of pothole damage in the year examined (2017/18).
South East England and Scotland fare worst
South East England is the most prolific region in the UK when it comes to potholes, with more than 122,000 reported to local authorities in 2017/18. However councils in the region tackled more than those reported, with 143,000 potholes being repaired in the same time period, costing them more than £12 million.
Authorities in Scotland, which came second in the table of areas with the highest number of potholes, spent £272,076 in compensation for pothole damage. If you combine the depths of potholes reported in Scotland they would come to a total depth of 4,432 metres – 25.5 times the depth of the English Channel.
Search for your region in the interactive graphic here.
The UK regions with the largest compensation payouts for potholes were Surrey (£446,812, Lincolnshire (£254,657) and Staffordshire (£186,428).
Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, says: “Our scrolling animation shows just how deep the UK’s pothole problem goes – a problem that has caused councils to pay out almost £3 million in compensation to vehicles in the last year alone.”
“The number of potholes reported in the UK has increased by 2% in the last year, and it’s a battle councils continue to fight.
“If motorists come across a pothole they should report it to their local authority before it gets any worse.”
How to claim for pothole damage
If you’re going to claim from the local authority, it’s best to keep records of everything where possible.
Here’s what you do:
Gather evidence – So long as it’s safe to do so, gather as much evidence about the pothole and the damage done to your car as you can. Write down all the key details such as location of the pothole, its size, shape and depth. It’s also worth taking a photograph of the offending pothole, and if it’s safe to do so, make a simple sketch of the area showing the position of the pothole and any surrounding features.
You should also note: the time and day of the incident, witness details (if any), your exact location so you can pinpoint the specific pothole, and the damage done to your car. It goes without saying, perhaps, but if the damage happened on a motorway, never try to visit or take photos of the pothole. Not only is it extremely dangerous, but trespassing on a motorway is a criminal offence.
Report the pothole – Whether or not you end up claiming for the damage, it’s your duty as a good citizen to report the pothole. Not only does this help speed up repairs of the pothole, there’ll be a definite record of it for if you decide to claim.
Some councils use apps like FixMyStreet to monitor potholes. Others prefer you to report the pothole directly to them. Check with them beforehand.
Repair your car – Get several quotes for any repairs before you settle on a garage. If you’re not paying over the odds for the repair, you’re more likely to get that money back.
Keep records of any quotes and receipts you get for the repairs. This will help to support your claim.
Submit your claim – If you’ve decided to make a claim, get in touch with the same local authority that you reported the pothole to. In your letter or email, you should include a full description of the incident, the location and time/date, details of any witnesses, any photographs or sketches of the scene, photographs of the damage to the car, and copies of all repair work receipts.
Be aware that making a successful claim is only likely if the local authority has failed in its duty to maintain the road.
What happens next? One of three things will happen: You win your claim and get all your money back. You are offered a partial settlement. Your claim is rejected entirely.
If the council offer a partial settlement, it’s always worth considering it. If it’s a lower amount than you’re demanding, it could cost you more in the long-run to continue the case.
England: Highways England
Wales: Traffic Wales
Scotland: Transport Scotland
Northern Ireland: Department for Infrastructure
In London, London red routes are the responsibility of Transport for London