‘If councils were more proactive, potholes wouldn’t be so dangerous’

With potholes costing UK motorists £730 million every year in car repairs, Steve Fowler falls foul of the claims process

Ever hit a pothole that’s damaged your car? I have. It happened on a road near my home, ‘maintained’ by Buckinghamshire County Council, and cost me £113 for a new tyre.

I’m not alone. Damage to tyres, wheels, suspension, exhausts and bodywork caused by potholes costs UK motorists around £730 million every year.

Guide: how to claim for pothole damage to your car

So what should you do if you suffer damage? Claim, as I did. But my claim has just been rejected under Section 58 of the Highways Act. It provides a defence if councils can prove they have taken reasonable care to properly maintain the highway.

Bucks County Council says it inspected the road 10 days before the damage was caused by the pothole in the picture above, so Section 58 applies. Do you think that pothole appeared within 10 days? I certainly don’t. But the Council told me: “We cannot publicly discuss the details of specific cases; however each claim is investigated and considered thoroughly before reaching a decision.

“When the ground temperature fluctuates just above and below zero degrees centigrade (as it has done frequently this winter), it is very possible for a defect to form within 10 days and even overnight. This is due to the damaging effect the ‘freeze-thaw-repeat’ process has on the road surface.”

Pothole-related breakdowns surge by 11 per cent

Right… But at least the Council thought it was worth repairing after I’d claimed as the pothole responsible was filled within a couple of weeks.

So what next? Apparently I can seek independent legal advice. Really? I shouldn’t have to take my local council to court. Surely councils exist to provide services to residents, not fight with them.

If the many councils up and down the country were more proactive, looking after roads in the first place, we wouldn’t have a pothole problem that’s at dangerous levels.

In the future, smart vehicles could report potholes automatically. Read all about it here

Recommended

'The Land Rover Defender and Aston Martin DBX must be front runners for World Car Design of the Year'
Opinion

'The Land Rover Defender and Aston Martin DBX must be front runners for World Car Design of the Year'

Mike Rutherford thinks cars from Gerry McGovern and Marek Reichman are favourites to win design award
30 Aug 2020
'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'
Opinion

'VW Group management shake-up could be crucial to the car choice facing UK buyers'

Deputy editor John McIlroy points to outgoing Skoda boss as a key reason for the firm's success
15 Jul 2020
"Despite the tragedy of 2020 so far, several intriguing developments emerged in the final week of June"
Opinion

"Despite the tragedy of 2020 so far, several intriguing developments emerged in the final week of June"

Mike Rutherford recounts some significant stories that may have passed you by in recent weeks
12 Jul 2020
'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'
Kia

'Sorry Jeep, but Kia now makes the best all-American SUV'

With Kia winning the World Car of the Year 2020 award with the American-built Telluride, Mike Rutherford believes Kia has beaten Jeep at their own gam…
18 Apr 2020

Most Popular

New 2021 BMW M3 launched with huge grille and 503bhp
BMW 3 Series M3 Coupe

New 2021 BMW M3 launched with huge grille and 503bhp

The new sixth-generation BMW M3 Competition saloon gets a 503bhp straight-six engine and four-wheel-drive
22 Sep 2020
New 2020 Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV revealed with up to 323 miles of range
Volkswagen ID.4

New 2020 Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV revealed with up to 323 miles of range

The new Tiguan-sized Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV becomes VW’s second ID. model, rivalling the Tesla Model Y
23 Sep 2020
New Range Rover Velar PHEV launched with 33-mile electric range
Land Rover Range Rover Velar

New Range Rover Velar PHEV launched with 33-mile electric range

Land Rover has given the Range Rover Velar an update, with a new plug-in hybrid powertrain and an improved infotainment system
23 Sep 2020