Despite all the usual rhetoric from government sources about how they are going to do this and that, Britain’s pothole strewn roads continue to leave motorists with an annual bill of £1.2 billion for suspension, steering and wheel repairs – a rise of 16% in just twelve months. With heavy rain continuing to erode the surface of our highways, figures from a new survey reveal that more than 8.9 million vehicles have suffered steering or suspension damage as a result of potholes over the past year. That’s disgraceful.
Dangerous potholes reported to hard-up councils have increased by eighteen percent over the past year according to motoring and cycling websites monitoring this issue and estimates from the Asphalt Industry Alliance suggest that the UK’s roads are pitted with as many as 2 million craters. That may well be more than the surface of the moon.
It seems that the surface of our roads is deteriorating to the point where drivers are now likely to encounter a potentially damaging pothole during most journeys – with rain-filled holes being harder to see and avoid. You never know how deep they are. In a new car a small pothole can damage wheels, tyres and shock absorbers but with large numbers of drivers keeping their cars for longer and cutting back on routine maintenance because of financial strain older, less well maintained cars are even more vulnerable.
Rectifying the damage caused by potholes can be unexpectedly costly, with an average repair bill of £140, and insurance companies attribute as many as one in five mechanical vehicle failures to pothole-related damage. The figures reveal that some regions had far higher incidences of pothole damage than others – with drivers on the south coast collectively being hit hardest with an £85 million repair bill, closely followed by motorists in Kent and the East Midlands who pay around £78 million and £75 million respectively.
The Government and local authorities are now spending almost £1 billion a year on highway maintenance but, despite repairing more than 2.2 million potholes a year, experts believe that fixing the backlog could take more than ten years. The only solution is to re-examine the whole issue of our roads and commence with some serious spending asap.
As far as cars are concerned cutting back on maintenance is a false economy because it increases the risk of damage to a vehicle going unnoticed as well as the likely repair costs to rectify it. Always get a professional opinion even if there are no immediate after-effects such as unexplained noises or wheel damage. Then try an recover the money from the organisation responsible. Good luck with that.