Our roads are becoming a pothole nightmare
In 2012 councils in England and Wales reportedly paid almost £23 million in compensation to road users for damage caused by potholes. Couple this with a recent survey carried out by the AA which suggests that over a third of drivers have suffered damage to their vehicles as a result of potholes on the road and these staggering figures point to an ongoing, and indeed, escalating problem facing motorists and cyclists.
Whilst the government has given £3 billion to councils to try to address the problem, the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) suggest that the amount actually needed to ensure our roads are in good condition is more like £10.5 billion.
In 2012 2.2 million potholes were fixed; an increase of 500,000 on the previous year. In the face of an already substantial back log the problem is only getting worse. Peter Box, Chair of the Local Government Association Economy and Transport Board attributes “Decades of underfunding by Whitehall, severe winters and recent widespread flooding” to the problem and suggests that more is required than just the “patching up” of our roads.
A spokesman for the AIA, John Bullock, suggests that it is actually more expensive to simply fill the offending potholes than to carry out a full road repair that would last for 15-20 years – by 20 times as much! Add to this the cost of compensation and without adequate funding councils are simply keeping their head above water, reacting to problems and complaints when they arise but being unable to proactively deal with the matter.
Gloucester County Council’s pothole repair policy has been criticised for being “inefficient and wasteful” with an arbitrary 40mm size limit for repairing a pothole. The policy has often meant that potholes have been ignored for not meeting the size criteria with highway repair crews having to visit the same stretch of road several times as road surface worsens.
In the Cheltenham area a single garage has repaired over 200 vehicles since the start of the year, all damaged as a result of hitting or avoiding potholes. Gloucestershire County Council has also paid over £6000 in costs to road users due to pothole related damage.
The UK infrastructure has been increasingly likened to the surface of the moon, with driving on certain roads becoming a veritable minefield and contributing to the substantial costs that motorists already face. With reports of tyre damage resulting from collisions with potholes, not to mention extreme cases where cars have been written off, motorists are beginning to look at how to protect themselves from the financial implications of our pothole peppered roads.
With the availability of Tyre Insurance and GAP Insurance from independent providers like ALA Insurance, drivers can afford to have peace of mind in the event the worst happens.
Tyre Insurance policies are available to cover for a repair or fully replace a tyre which can’t be repaired. With policies paying a maximum of £300 per claim for up to five replacement tyres and cover costing as little as £159.00 it’s easy to see why people are choosing to guard against the increasing chance of pothole related tyre damage.
Motorists are also looking at covering the financial shortfall left in the event of a vehicle being declared a write off. There have been reports of vehicles being declared a total loss as a result of hitting or avoiding potholes and without GAP these unfortunate drivers will be left with just the market value of their car at the point of the write off.
Companies like ALA Insurance can also provide motorists with a variety of GAP policies to suit individual needs. These policies bridge the difference between a motor insurer’s settlement in the event of a write off and the original price of the car, the replacement cost of a new or similar aged vehicle or covering the amount of outstanding finance if this is the higher amount at the time.
The issues affecting our roads are unlikely to be resolved overnight and a loosening of the belt on local council’s tight budgets is even less likely to be imminent. Until that time does arrive consumers are clearly becoming increasingly aware of the ways they can ensure they are protected if the worst case scenario becomes a reality.