Potholes costing UK economy £14bn a year

Richard Aucock, ContributorWed, 01 May 2024

The dire state of British roads is costing the UK a staggering GBP14.4bn a year in economic damage, a new report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has revealed The report tallies up the cost of pothole-related vehicle damage, accidents, reduced speeds and increased emissions. The CEBR blames the pothole crisis on reduced spending on routine maintenance by English councils.

It fell from GBP1.75bn in 2016 to GBP1.27bn in 2023 a drop of nearly 30%. Back in 2018, it was estimated than over GBP9.3bn was needed to bring the road network up to scratch. Since then, motorists have spent GBP9.5bn on vehicle repairs caused by pothole damage.

The catch-up figure has now risen to an estimated GBP16.3bn. CEBR deputy chair Douglas McWilliams said roads in England are now worse for potholes than most places between Beijing and Paris. Labour MP Louise Haigh added "there are more potholes in Britain than craters on the moon".

Backing up the CEBR figures is the Kwik Fit PIT Report 2024, which reveals potholes are costing drivers GBP1.5bn in repairs each year. Motorists with damage from potholes face an average bill of GBP120. The most commonly-damaged components are tyres (51%), wheels (34%) and suspension (27%).

1 in 8 pothole damage repairs involve bodywork, 1 in 10 require new steering components and 8% saw exhaust damage. Alarmingly, Kwik Fit added its research found that in 45% of cases, the damage caused by hitting a pothole was not immediately apparent. "Potholes are not just an issue because of the cost to drivers, they present a risk to people's safety," said Kwik-Fit's Roger Griggs.

"We advise drivers who experience any severe pothole impacts to keep monitoring for damage well after the event."

Ask HJ

How do I claim for pothole damage?

I have been informed I may be able to claim for pothole damage to my tyres and alloy wheel caused by public roads. First incident was a damaged tyre which needed replacing. Second incident was damaged tyre and the alloy has a buckled side - both will need replacing.

I have RAC reports stating pothole damage (one states it is pothole damage to tyre, and the most recent second incident, the RAC mechanic wrote he suspected it was pothole damage to tyre and alloy). After both incidents, I took photos of the potholes, which are large and fairly deep, and I have retained both tyres too.

1. Do I have basis to claim - if so from who and how?

2. Is there a window of time to submit a claim?

3. What information do I need for a claim?

4. How do I find out who has responsibility for the road the damage occurred on?

The body responsible for road maintenance, and therefore who you need to complain to, depends on the type of road. Motorways and major trunk roads (A-roads) are the responsibility of Highways England - you need to contact them via [email protected] in order to make a complaint.

Local roads, including smaller A-roads and B-roads are the responsibility of the local council - you can use this link https://www.gov.uk/report-pothole to determine the relevant body and this will guide you through the claims process.

If the pothole caused the damage to your car, you have the written reports from the RAC and photographic evidence, then you have a right to complain if you choose to do so.

Answered by David Ross

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