More than 26,000 compensation claims made in the past financial year
Number of claims for pothole damage has increased 13% from last year
Claims include ruined wheel rims, punctures and damaged suspension
Councils have paid out more than £5 million to drivers
Wiltshire pays out the most, spending £154,871.72 to settle 770 claims
Number of claims soars in areas hit by the heaviest rainfall
The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames hardest hit with 26% rise
Compensation payouts for pothole damage to cars have soared by up to a quarter in the past year with flood-hit areas facing the highest bills, new figures show.
According to a figures released today, councils worst hit by last winter’s floods saw a rise in claims of up to 26 percent as motorists put in compensation claims.
In total, more than 26,000 compensation claims have been made in the past financial year – an increase of 13 per cent on the previous year. Common claims include potholes ruining wheel rims to punctured tyres and damaged suspension.
Councils have also had to pay out more than £5million in compensation to drivers in the past two years for pothole damage to cars, according to the statistics, disclosed by 143 highways authorities in response to a Freedom of Information request.
Of the authorities to respond, Wiltshire has paid out the highest amount in compensation so far this year, spending £154,871.72 to settle 770 claims.
Vale of Glamorgan Council has already paid out more than £152,000 in compensation, Surrey County Council has paid out £134,000 and Devon County Council has paid out £91,000.
Data from councils show the A509 in Milton Keynes and Fir Tree Road in Banstead, Epsom Downs are some of the worst roads for potholes in the UK resulting in 123 and 116 compensation claims respectively since 2012.
Soaked: Britain experienced some of the worst storms on record last winter with some areas getting nearly twice as much rainfall as usual, which caused flash flooding and left many roads under water
According to the report from LV= Road Rescue, there are now so many potholes on British roads that one in six drivers have been left with damage to their cars in the past 12 months as a result of poor road surfaces, paying out £118 for the average repair cost.
The most common problems include tyre damage (49 percent), suspension problems (34 percent) and broken wheel rims (28 percent). Yet motorists have not only had to pay out to fix damage to their cars as a result of potholes, one in six (16 percent) drivers have swerved to avoid a pothole and nearly had an accident.
‘Persistently heavy rain and flooding earlier in the year created the perfect storm for Britain’s pothole epidemic,’ said Peter Horton, Managing Director of LV= Road Rescue said.
‘Councils therefore face difficult choices in the roads they prioritise for repair this winter. Motorists should protect themselves by keeping an eye out for potholes and keeping speeds down – particularly in wet weather when potholes may be filled by rain.’
Potholes, which can damage the suspension and wheels of a car, as well as burst tyres, develop when rain or floodwater collects in cracks on the road surface.
Britain experienced some of the worst storms on record last winter with some areas getting nearly twice as much rainfall as usual, which caused flash flooding and left many roads under water.
Washout: The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, pictured under water earlier this year, was the hardest hit with a 26 percent rise in the number of compensation claims
Flooding hell: The number of claims made in Kent was up 23 percent. Tonbridge was flooded over Christmas, with people taking boats to get around the town
As a result, councils in the areas with some of the heaviest rainfall have seen their compensation claims soar. The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames was the hardest hit with a 26 percent rise whilst Kent that saw a 23 percent increase and Wiltshire was up 21 percent.
Despite greater investment in maintaining and fixing road surfaces and potholes, road maintenance in the UK is still severely under-funded, with around £63 spent per driver per year on maintaining and fixing roads.
Short-term fixes are often chosen over longer-term solutions, with one in six (16 percent) councils saying they usually temporarily fix potholes rather than resurface the area, and according to the councils, the average British road is resurfaced just every 58 years.
THE BLIGHT OF BRITISH ROADS: THE WORST AREAS FOR POTHOLES ACCORDING TO COMPENSATION PAID OUT IN
1. Wiltshire Council
Amount paid: £154,871.72
Number of claims: 770
2. Vale of Glamorgan**
Amount paid: £152,045.28
Number of claims: 148
3. Surrey County Council**
Amount paid: £134,304.00;
Number of claims: 3,024
4. Devon County Council**
Amount paid: £91,110.10
Number of claims 718
5. Hertfordshire County Council**
Amount paid: £68,462.87
Number of claims: 1,346
6. Lancashire County Council**
Amount paid: £59,388.00
Number of claims: 213
7. Cambridgeshire County Council;
Amount paid: £58,595.26
Number of claims: 376
8. East Sussex County Council **
Amount paid: £53,028.00
Number of claims: 1,125
9. Oxfordshire County Council **
Amount paid: £47,277.54
Number of claims: 663
10. Bury Council
Amount paid: £32,829.80
Number of claims: 179
* Compensation payouts in 2013/2014 may include claims submitted in a previous year
** Figures given for January – August 2014
Source: LV= Road Rescue
RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said: ‘It is easy to see why we are in this situation.
‘While recent harsh winters have exacerbated and highlighted the poor state of our roads, the seeds of our current problems were sown decades ago.
‘Back in the mid 1980s local road surfaces were being repaired and replaced once every 12 years or so. Today the rate is once every 25 years.’
He went on: ‘Spending on roads has fallen by almost a quarter in real terms over the past five years.
‘The future looks equally bleak. Road spending is not ring fenced and councils say more and more of their limited funds are being diverted to statutory obligations like providing environmental services and social care.’
The figures have sparked a call by the Local Government Association for an extra £1 billion a year to be spent on roads.
The LGA’s transport spokesman, Peter Box, said the floods which ravaged Britain between October 2013 and February this year left many stretches of road “crumbling and warned that another cold wet winter could mark the “tipping point” for the local road network.
‘“Despite spiralling multi-million pound compensation costs and funding cuts, councils still fixed two million potholes last year,”’ he said.
“’But we need long-term funding to tackle the ever-growing £12 billion roads repair backlog facing the nation.
‘“Last year’s floods caused widespread destruction on our roads leaving motorists to drive on crumbling highways that are increasingly unfit for the 21st century.
“’Our fear is that another harsh winter could be the tipping point for our roads.
“’Tackling this crisis must be a national priority. That is why we are calling for the Government to inject a further £1 billion a year into roads maintenance by investing the equivalent of just two pence per litre of existing fuel duty.”’
The Department for Transport said £168 million was made available in April this year for three million emergency pothole repairs in addition to £10 billion that councils will receive for local road maintenance between 2010 and 2012.
A spokesman said: ‘Potholes are a menace for all road users. This Government has taken action to improve road conditions by spending £1 billion more on local roads maintenance over this parliament than in 2005-10.
‘Between 2010 and 2021 we have committed a total of £10 billion to making roads safer and easier to use, improvements that will make a real difference to people right across the country.’