The enormity of the pothole crisis that has devastated Britain’s roads is being laid bare today – British drivers face 100,000 dangerous craters that can shred tires and cause accidents.
MailOnline sent a freedom of information request to every local authority in England, Scotland and Wales to find out how many claims motorists have made for pothole damage since 2016.
We also asked how much money the council has paid out in damages and legal fees, as well as the number of potholes currently in need of repair.
Since 2016, councils in England, Scotland and Wales have paid out more than £43 million in damages and legal fees to motorists whose vehicles were damaged in a pothole.
The numbers collected by MailOnline suggest there are at least 100,000 potholes nationwide that need urgent attention.
The live pothole figure changes every day, but this snapshot gives an indication of how serious the problem is.
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Local authorities across Britain have spent more than £43 million in compensation payments to road users after their vehicles were damaged by potholes
Cyclists and motorcyclists are also faced with the fact that they are thrown from their bicycles and suffer serious injuries. In March 2020, the government announced its ‘biggest ever pothole backfilling programme’, pledging £500 million each year between 2021 and 2025 to solve the problem.
Despite a pothole being filled every 27 seconds, municipalities are seeing the roads under their control continue to deteriorate, putting motorists at enormous risk.
A vehicle’s impact with a pothole can destroy a tyre, bend a rim and even cause extensive suspension damage costing thousands of pounds to repair – leading to further damage claims.
The dangerous holes are even harder to spot when it’s raining heavily, as they can quickly fill with water, camouflage their depth of tire shredding.
Figures obtained by MailOnline suggest councils have spent an estimated £3.3 million on legal advice on the matter.
Many municipalities use temporary repairs to repair potholes so the road can remain open until they have the funds to resurface a larger portion of the roadway.
However, in bad weather, these workarounds quickly break down and cause other problems when the crushed stone washes down the gullies to block nearby drains, leading to flooding.
Seawick Road in Seawick, St Osyth, Essex has been described as Britain’s worst road due to its poor carriageway
In Deptford, south-east London, emergency services had to slow down awaiting urgent repairs to the road surface
The road surface on Church Street in Deptford broke up during the winter
With local elections fast approaching, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was on a site visit in Darlington and cheerfully inspected a medium-sized pit.
But for 416 motorists in the city, road defects are no laughing matter, especially for the 41 who received £49,721 in compensation – while when MailOnline did its snapshot, there were a further 312 potholes still to be repaired.
Last month, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a further £200 million to repair the estimated 100,000 potholes in the road network. Also, the government plans to fine rogue utilities that excavate a road and fail to repair it properly.
While at Darlington, the Prime Minister said: ‘Today we are announcing more money for potholes.’ Although Downing Street later confirmed that there was no additional funding beyond what was already budgeted.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, centre, stands over a pothole in Darlington where motorists have been paid nearly £50,000 in compensation for damage to their cars from the poor road surface
Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh accused the government of “catching up after its own failures have left the UK’s roads crumbling”.
She said: “In 2021, the prime minister promised to make potholes a thing of the past, but his decisions have left millions on our roads.
“This is too little and too late for the communities across the country who are paying the price for his broken promises.”
Lib Dem local government spokeswoman Helen Morgan said the announcement had “more holes than British roads”.
“This is nothing new and just a complete re-hash. The blunt truth is that the government has starved municipalities to repair roads, and this last patch is too little too late,” she said.
Conservatively-led rural councils have collapsed their roads, damaging cars across the country. Rishi Sunak should visit those areas to see the problem with his own eyes.’
A spokesman for the AA said: ‘The rise in pothole-related incidents is of concern to motorists, motorcyclists and cyclists. Continued cold and wet weather means that problem roads will undoubtedly get worse and complaints about potholes won’t go away until the roads are properly repaired.
‘Our patrols have lost about 20 percent more breakdowns due to potholes in heavy rain, because many potholes are covered with standing water. If a vehicle hits a pothole, the cost of wheel, tire or suspension damage can run into thousands of dollars, adding further strain to already stretched family budgets.
“Many modern vehicles don’t carry a spare wheel, so if potholes damage the tire or wheel, it becomes a bigger problem to fix it before you can get back on the road. We advise drivers to check whether they have sufficient breakdown cover.’
The Asphalt Industry Alliance criticized the level of funding available for maintaining the road network.
STAFFORDSHIRE – Pothole repairs are made on a road in Stoke-on-Trent on March 3
They claim that local authorities receive only two-thirds of the amount they need to clear the backlog.
In an annual survey, the AIA said it would take 11 years to clear the backlog of road defects on the network.
AIA President Rick Green said: ‘Road engineers can only do so much with the resources they are given and should be applauded for the steps they take to keep the roads safe.
Potholes and the condition of our local roads remain important issues for the public and the Chancellor has acknowledged this somewhat in his spring budget. But the additional £200 million one-off payment for local roads in England, while welcome, is simply not enough.
“We all understand that there are tough choices to be made with demands and pressures on public finances coming from every area, but not investing in local road maintenance will only lead to deteriorating conditions, impacting other public services delivered locally, a rising bill for solve the problem and more complaints from road users.’
The total number of pothole fills reported in this year’s survey has fallen by 16 per cent from 1.7 million over the past two years to 1.4 million in England and Wales
Only half of Britain’s roads are in good structural condition, while 100,000 miles of carriageway – without major remediation – need to be rebuilt.
Approximately 37,000 miles of roadway have a structural life of less than five years.
Mr Green added: ‘To really improve conditions and create a safe, resilient and sustainable network will require a longer term funding horizon from central government with more ring-fencing of the motorway budget. This would help engineers from local authorities plan more effectively and carry out work more efficiently to protect and increase the resilience of the local road network.”
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