Dealing with potholes can be a literal nightmare. With the increase of rain and flooding, the roads in Britain have never been in worse shape; according to the 2015 annual local authority road maintenance report, 1 in 6 roads are in poor condition. Wet winters, flooding and bad weather are causing more potholes than local councils can keep up with, due to the constant freezing and thawing of the excess water.
On average a car is damaged by a pothole every 11 minutes. Lack of funding from the government is forcing councils to resort to reactive maintenance instead of dealing with potholes; however, potholes are just the effects of a deeper underlying problem which is not being addressed proactively.
What damage can potholes cause?
It is strongly advised to avoid potholes where possible, even hitting a pothole at a low speed can cause damage to tyres, wheel bearings and the steering alignment. Hitting a pothole at a high speed can cause severe damage and puts you at risk of losing control of your vehicle.
Remember it is incredibly important to check your tyres after hitting a pothole when it is safe to do so. Also worth remembering is that any damage caused may not be apparent straight away.
How to avoid damage when dealing with potholes
Sometimes it is simply impossible to avoid a pothole, so below are some tips on how to reduce any damage that may be caused should you be unlucky enough to hit one.
- Check your tyre pressures regularly. Under or over inflated tyres can not only cause more damage but affect your cars handling (not to mention fuel economy!).
- Be cautious when it comes to puddles. That innocent looking puddle may be hiding a sneaky pothole.
- Stay sharp. Increase the gap between you and the car in front. Not only will you have more time to react if you spot a pothole, but you can also notice what the traffice is doing in front of you.
- Reduce your speed. As said above, a slower speed will not only reduce damage but is safer for everyone.
The best way to negotiate a pothole
- Brake. If you spot a pothole but a car coming towards you means you have no choice but to ride it out, slowly apply your brakes as you get closer but release any pressure on the break before you hit it. Hitting a pothole with your brakes applied compresses your suspension worsening damage and increasing the risk of losing control as the front of your vehicle dips.
- Accelerator. Release pressure on the accelerator so your vehicle rolls as nicely as it can over the pothole, hopefully reducing the damage caused.
- DO NOT SWERVE. That desperate last minute swerve will do more damage than good and could increase risk of collisions with other vehicles on the road. A cars suspension and alloy wheels will handle a straight impact alot better than a side on one.
- 10 to 2. Remember your driving lessons? Did you cover dealing with potholes? Well imagine your instructor is next you and hold your hands in the correct 10 to 2 position, this is incredibly important when driving over a pesky pothole.
How to claim for any damage
It is important to note that if the council is not aware of the pothole or it has not been reported, you do not have a claim.
- Take pictures and make notes of the location and any other important details
- Report the pothole to the council
- Check your vehicle and make any needed repairs
- Make your claim in writing
- Do not be afraid to negotiate with your council. Whether they make a contribution to the repairs or pay for it all, every little helps.