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Secretary’s Scribbles

Posted on 09/04/16 |

I don’t think that I’ll surprise members and associates by stating that roads across the country are in a very poor state. Many repairs don’t last very long and even the surface of newly tarmacked roads doesn’t seem to remain pristine for as long as it used to.  An RAC survey found that six out of ten drivers believed the condition of local roads was worse than a year ago.  Is this because the materials being used nowadays are inferior to those that were used in the past or is it because of increased volumes of traffic?  I’m no expert so I can’t give you a definitive answer.  Another possibility might be climatic but, although we all remember the “Beast from the East” weather in 2018 when it was reported that pothole claims more than doubled, long very cold winters are a distant memory.

As you all know, when the water, which seeps into cracks in the road surface, freezes in cold temperatures, it expands, pushing the tarmac apart.  Gaps appear in the surface and these are enlarged by passing traffic.  This process is repeated until the surface crumbles and potholes form.  Fixing them is generally in the hands of local councils but we know that they have been short of funds for years and have many conflicting demands on their cash.

Because of our observation skills we advanced motorists are probably more aware of potholes than general drivers and thus may find them less of a problem.  However, anyone can become a victim, particularly when the hole fills with water.  Recently The Daily Telegraph published advice on how to get the Council to “cough up” for pothole damage and this may be useful if you find yourself with a damaged vehicle.

First you need to know who is responsible for the upkeep of the road where your car was damaged.  Local roads, B roads and some smaller A roads are maintained by local councils.  Motorways and larger A roads are the responsibility of National Highways.  To make a successful claim you need coherent evidence of the damage to your own vehicle, any injuries or medical treatment and costs of repairs.  Receipts or other evidence like bank statements are essential.  Photographs of the pothole showing its size and depth and a plan to show its location are a good idea.  Ask the Council or National Highways if they knew there was a problem in that location and, if so, what they had done about it.

The insurer, Admiral, recommends that, within 14 days of the event, motorists ask for copies of highway maintenance schedules and reports of incidents.  The chances of settlement are higher if the pothole has already been reported and the council has not acted.  If the claim is rejected, you may decide to proceed through the courts.  This can be costly and time consuming so it may not be worthwhile unless the damage to your vehicle is extensive.  However, if there are more successful claims, then Councils will have to keep a keener eye on their roads and make sure that remedial action takes place as soon as possible to keep within their budgets.  I wonder if longer lasting materials are available? – if we could get them used that would benefit everyone!

Gary Whittle