The snow and heavy rain that many of us experienced over the last month have left behind a trail of destruction with potholes filling our roads.
Before the snow had cleared, social media was flooded with pictures and complaints of bathtub-sized holes. All big enough to cause serious damage to motorists. It’s estimated that it could cost more than £12 billion to fix the roads with potholes. But who is held responsible for repairing the damage?
Richard Gladman, Chief Examiner at IAM RoadSmart, outlines what you should do if you were to hit a pothole as well as who may be responsible for the bill.
Check for any damage
When most of us are driving or riding we’ll be surrounded by other vehicles, whether they’re in our lane or not, so it’s important to mention that swerving an oncoming pothole can be incredibly dangerous.
If you hit a pothole, even at a low speed, it can cause damage to your vehicle. It’s important you pull over when it’s safe to do so to inspect any visible damage to your wheels and tyres and listen out for any new noises your vehicle may be making. If you can’t see any visible damage, and you believe it’s safe, continue your journey checking to make sure your steering wheel remains centred and isn’t pulling to one side.
If your vehicle doesn’t seem right, get it booked into a garage as soon as possible.
Report the pothole
Even if you don’t need to claim for damages to your vehicle, you should always report the pothole as the next motorist to encounter it might not be as lucky. It’s the duty of the local council to fix potholes on local roads, and National Highways are responsible for motorways and A roads in England.
If you live in Wales then the roads are managed by Traffic Wales, in Scotland it’s My Gov Scotland, and in Northern Ireland it’ll be NI Direct Government Services. You can claim for damage to your vehicle here.
Repair your vehicle
With the cost-of-living crisis impacting many of us, if your vehicle needs a repair then it’s always a good idea to get several quotes first. Always remember to keep a copy of your invoices and receipts to support your claim.
Making a claim
You may be able to claim compensation from the councils as they have a responsibility to fix large potholes if they know about them. It’s their role to keep the roads safe for motorists, so make sure you write to the council and include as much detail as possible. You may wish to attach photographs of the pothole, as well as the damage it caused, and remember to send copies of the invoices and receipts.
Richard Gladman said, “If you can safely avoid driving into a pothole then of course it will be better for you and your vehicle, but if you do have to then go through it as slowly as possible to avoid damage.
“Sometimes we do get caught out and the crash you hear and feel always sounds as if you have broken something, check it is safe to continue and if you have any doubt at all then get it professionally checked.
“A damaged tyre will fail more readily at speed and damaged suspension will be putting extra stress on the whole car. If you do report a pothole it will make a possible claim easier for the next driver who encounters it, but more than that it may just get it repaired and prevent there being a next time.”