Prepare for potholes

This winter’s record rainfall has left the UK’s road in a pitiful state, with potholes and damaged road surfaces the bane of many drivers. And, while the weather may be improving, the roads aren’t likely to get any better.

Although councils filled more than two million potholes last year and the government has pledged a further £200m to help local authorities battle the bumps, the latest Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey from the Asphalt Industry Alliance shows greater investment is required.

It estimates that it would take a cash injection of £12bn to get the roads in England and Wales back into reasonable condition – equivalent to an average spend of £90m per authority in England – and it would take as many as 12 years to clear the backlog.

With this level of investment unlikely, drivers need to be aware of the risks associated with potholes. At low speed, hitting a deep pothole can cause damage to tyres, wheels and steering alignment. Left unchecked, this damage could increase the risk of further problems and even an accident.

At higher speeds, the same pothole can cause serious damage to a vehicle, even potentially causing a driver to lose control of it, risking collision with other road users, property or pedestrians.

In these scenarios, there’s also a danger that the employee has been injured and the vehicle will be off the road for some time being repaired. This could have ramifications for your business.

While you can submit a claim for the cost of any repairs to the local highway authority, it’s not always possible for a claim to be successful. Highway authorities have a statutory defence that they cannot be held liable for a defect, such as a pothole if they were not aware because it hadn’t been reported or picked up in their own road surveys.

As a result, the best strategy to reduce the risks associated with hitting a pothole is to drive sensibly and maintain your vehicle so it is less susceptible to damage. If you are unlucky enough to hit a pothole, then make sure the vehicle is checked out and any damage is repaired as quickly as possible.

Avoid the potholes

Hitting a pothole can do serious damage to your vehicle and increase the risk of an accident. These driving tips will help keep you safe whatever the state of the road surface:

Look out for potholes

Keep an eye on the road for potholes to protect your vehicle. Allow plenty of distance between your vehicle and the one in front so you can spot any problems and be especially careful on wet days as deep potholes can be hard to spot when they’re full of water.

Drive carefully

If you can’t avoid a pothole, slow down and try to avoid swerving round it as this could put you in danger of a more serious accident. Avoid braking as you go over the pothole as this can cause more damage and look out for other road users and pedestrians.

Get your vehicle checked if you do hit a pothole

Damage may not be immediately obvious, especially to tyres, steering and wheel alignment, but could result in expense or even an accident.

Check tyres and tyre pressures regularly

Look out for any bulges, nicks or unusual wear and if in any doubt get them checked at a garage or tyre specialist. This will also ensure they are in the best possible condition to deal with poor quality road surfaces.

Report any potholes

Make the local highway authority aware of any defects in the road surface so they can repair it. Details can be found on the council’s website and some even include an online defect reporting form or special telephone number.

This article is courtesy of Allianz Insurance plc.

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