UK motorists pay £1billion annually due to damage caused by potholes
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A new investigation from car repairs payment platform bumper.co.uk has found that UK motorists pay £1billion annually due to damage caused by the 1.5 million potholes on local roads. Data received from 190 of the 207 local highway authorities in Britain and accumulated by the RAC found that three in four local authorities (75 percent) have moved to a “risk-based approach” to fixing road defects.
As such, only 31 percent of local highway authorities will investigate potholes less than 40 millimetres deep.
While 40 millimetres seems insignificant at first glance, if even as few as one quarter of reported potholes on local roads were – for instance – 30 millimetres deep then the combined height of the UK’s local road potholes is comfortably taller than Mount Everest and deeper than the Pacific Ocean.
From April 2018 to June 2021, motorists reported 1.5 million potholes on local roads to 51 UK councils – a number which would inevitably be much higher if potholes on major roads and motorways were also reported.
Under the Road Traffic Act 1980, all local highway authorities are responsible for the maintenance of their respective road networks.
However, surprisingly, there is not a national statutory standard definition of what compromises a pothole.
A cynical individual might suggest that a cash-strapped local authority could simply increase its classification of a pothole to avoid repairing and filling the damaged road.
In fact, 69 percent of local highway authorities only investigate when a pothole is 40 millimetres deep or more.
If 40mm is applied as the average depth of a pothole in the UK, since it is the minimum depth required for the majority of local highway authorities to investigate, the combined depth of the 1.5 million reported potholes on local roads is 60,000 metres.
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This total is over halfway to space. The Kármán Line, an invisible boundary where the atmosphere becomes too thin for conventional aircrafts, is 100,000 metres above mean sea level.
Previous research from Bumper discovered that 87 percent of UK motorists are forced to replace at least one tyre per year, with damage after hitting a pothole (32 percent) topping the most common causes.
The average cost of replacing four tyres is £397, broken down to £99.25 per tyre, meaning that owners of the 40.8 million licensed vehicles in the UK are coughing up £1,127,352,960 on pothole-inflicted tyre replacements annually.
With an evident pothole issue plaguing local roads, the team at www.bumper.co.uk have collated their top tips for motorists.
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Follow the two-second rule
You should always remain at least two seconds behind the vehicle in front of you, especially on local roads. If there is a sudden pothole, the vehicle in front of you might brake or swerve to avoid it. By remaining two seconds behind, you are guaranteed to have good visibility of the road condition at all times.
If possible, slow down and steer away from a pothole
Sometimes, totally avoiding a pothole is not possible. If you can see that you are approaching one, try to slow down without braking suddenly and gently steer away from it to avoid directly driving over it. If you are unable to take any avoiding action, you risk potentially causing costly damage to your car.
Be mindful of tyres
An average car tyre should last approximately 10 years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first. By regularly checking your tyres, particularly before a long-distance journey, you should be able to identify any problems in their early stages. Current UK road laws state that all tyres on vehicles must be at a minimum of 1.6 millimetres across the central three quarters of the tread.
James Jackson, CEO of www.bumper.co.uk, said: “The lack of clarity on potholes has left roads in a degenerative state.
“All too often, motorists are left to navigate craters in the road which can cause significant damage to the tyres.
“Potholes are costing motorists over £1billion per year in tyre replacements alone, signalling that improved infrastructure is a must.
“If you’re worried about the damage potholes in your area might be causing on your tyres, our advice is to check your tyres regularly for damage or wear, particularly before a long distance journey.
“In addition, be sure to carry out yearly MOTs and services.
“If you’re worried about the cost of repairs or maintenance I would advise to speak to your mechanic, who might be able to suggest alternative payment methods such as splitting the cost of repairs over a number of months.”
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