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Two in five drivers would pay MORE tax to fix potholes

Pothole road

The UK’s pothole epidemic is so severe, around 40 percent of drivers said they would be willing to pay more tax to fix the problem. That’s according to a study conducted by Green Flag, with researchers speaking to 2,000 British drivers.

As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”, but we can add potholes to that list, with UK drivers encountering, on average, seven potholes per trip.

Even more shocking is the fact that 56 percent of motorists said their cars have been damaged by potholes, costing the country around £4.9 billion in repair costs.

In February, the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) said that £1.5 billion was required over the next 10 years simply to get the UK’s road network up to a maintainable standard. Right now, there are around one million potholes scarring Britain’s roads, and the problem is only going to get worse.

Driving us potty

Traffic cone in a pothole

Green Flag’s research would suggest that motorists have had enough. While two in five said they’d be prepared to pay a higher rate of VED if the revenue was spent on repairing potholes, around a quarter said they’d be willing to add up to five miles to their journey to avoid driving on a pock-marked road.

Simon Henrick at Green Flag said: “The problem of potholes on UK roads means there is an increased risk of car damage. With this in mind, it is important to stay safe when driving and to regularly check your vehicle and tyres for damage.

“Our research found that only a third of drivers know how to check their tyres for damage, and only 49 per cent know how to change a tyre, so Green Flag is doing all we can to ensure drivers know how to carry out basic safety checks before a journey and carry out simple maintenance to their vehicles.”

It’s rather worrying that just half of the motorists surveyed said they know how to change a tyre – although with so many cars leaving the showroom without a spare wheel, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. Just one in three motorists said they’d feel comfortable checking tyres for signs of damage.

How to change a car tyre

changing a tyre

To help the 49 percent of drivers who can’t change a wheel, Green Flag has put together the following guide.

  1. Find a safe place to stop: as soon as you notice you have a flat tyre, find a safe place to stop off the road on a stable, flat surface. If you’re on a motorway, move to the hard shoulder and wait for assistance as it’s too dangerous to change a tyre there.
  2. Safety first: put on a high visibility vest and place a reflective hazard warning triangle plenty of distance behind your car to alert oncoming traffic.
  3. Prepare for the job: locate the spare wheel, the jack, wheel brace and locking wheel nut key. All should be either under the boot floor, under the car or in some SUVs on the back door.
  4. No spare? If you can’t find a spare wheel, your car may instead be equipped with mousse that can be squirted into the tyre through the valve. This is only a temporary solution to get you home and you should get the tyre changed as soon as possible.
  5. Prepare the wheel: to remove the punctured wheel and tyre, loosen the wheel nuts with the wheel wrench, but don’t remove them yet. If you can’t see the wheel nuts, you may have to prise off a cover first. If your car has alloy wheels, one of the nuts is likely to be locking and there will be a key that fits the wheel brace to undo this.
  6. Position the car: check the handbrake is firmly on and put the car into first gear. Find the jacking point by looking in your car’s manual, and use the jack to raise the car so that the wheel with the punctured tyre is off the ground.
  7. Remove the wheel: now fully remove the wheel nuts and take off the wheel. If the wheel won’t budge, call your breakdown provider: pushing and pulling it could bring the car off the jack.
  8. Add the spare wheel: lift the spare wheel onto the hub, line up the holes and screw in the nuts until they’re finger tight. Once it’s secure, lower the jack and use the wrench to tighten the wheel nuts fully.
  9. To remember: check them all twice to be sure none is loose. Remember if your car has a space saver spare wheel, your top speed and the number of miles you cover is limited.

More than 11 million drivers affected by potholes in 2018

Potholes UK

More than 11 million drivers were affected by potholes last year, with the resulting vehicle damage costing the country a staggering £1.2 billion. That’s according to research published by Kwik Fit.

The news comes on the same day that the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) annual survey suggests £24.5 million was spent on short-term ‘patch and mend’ work to 1.86 million holes.

Local authorities would need to spend £9.79 billion over the next decade to bring all roads up to scratch, said the AIA. The problem is only going to get worse, with the number of potholes repaired by councils in England and Wales rising by more than a fifth in 2018.

While Kwik Fit found that the average cost of repairing damage to tyres, suspension and wheels has reduced slightly from £111 to £108.86, the number of motorists suffering from pothole-related incidents increased by 2.9 million in 2018.

The most common repairs are tyres (5.9 million), suspension (3.8 million), wheels (3.7 million), steering (1.7 million), bodywork (1.3 million) and exhausts (1.2 million). Anecdotally, the plethora of potholes also damaged around 11 million wallets.

Londoners were the hardest hit, with the capital’s drivers facing a bill of £205 million. In Scotland, the figure stood at more than £150 million, while in Wales, the total cost was ‘just’ £20 million.

Damage around the corner

Pothole damage

Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, said: “The cost of damage from potholes is hitting more and more drivers who are continuing to see their cash being spent on issues that are not entirely their fault.

“Fortunately, this winter has not been as harsh as it has been in recent years, however as we know with the Great British weather, conditions which would further damage our road network could still be [around] the corner.

“It is worth noting that damage isn’t always immediately noticeable, so motorists should give their car a thorough check when they do hit a pothole.”

AIA chairman Rick Green said: “Sustained investment over a longer time frame is needed if we want a local road network that supports enhanced mobility, connectivity and productivity.”

UK in a ‘roads crisis’ according to highways workforce

Ford Focus pothole

A number of areas have been identified as focal points for improvement in the highways sector, after research carried out by Re-flow across the UK raised concerns.

The main challenges that are hampering the maintenance of the UK’s roads are, according to highways workers, a lack of effective scheduling and monitoring, too much bureaucracy and poor communication between delivery teams.

Digital technologies are also considered to be under-utilised at present, according to over three-in-four responding workers. As many as 73 percent also agreed that public opinion is important in registering issues and measuring the quality of our roads.

Although issues have been highlighted with the process of road maintenance, the workers have highlighted that coverage of roadway issues is unfairly skewed towards the state of the roads. By comparison, the work that goes into maintaining roads is under-covered.

Road workers fixing a pothole

This comes just days after it was claimed that as much as £15 billion over the course of ten years will be needed to get the UK’s road network on track in terms of manageable maintenance. It’s been claimed before that the UK is in the throes of a pothole epidemic. Sounds a bit worse than ‘roads crisis’ but that’s not exactly ideal…

Still, it’s good to have the views of those on the front line. They do deserve a bit more credit, we reckon…

£1.5 billion needed over 10 years to repair UK potholes

Potholes UK Epidemic

The Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) has estimated that road maintenance funding needs to rise by £1.5billion per year to get the UK’s highways up to a maintainable standard. Even then, clearing the backlog would take a decade.

A longer-term approach to funding is needed, says the AIA, to prevent a ‘cycle of patch and mend due to the long-term underfunding of local roads’.

Potholes UK Epidemic

Local authorities have spent as much as £1 billion over the past 10 years simply filling in potholes, barely maintaining and certainly not improving road standards.

The time and money spent patching roads is deducted from planned maintenance and upgrades that could see the pothole become almost extinct, it says.

In October, there was a £420 million pledge to local authorities to help mend the UK’s shattered roads. Since then, we’ve had a significant cold snap, meaning that the UK’s pothole epidemic is only likely only to get worse.

Potholes UK Epidemic

The UK has hovered around 1,000,000-pothole mark for the past three years, according to surveys by local authorities.

“While the additional funding announced by Government has been well received, it’s a fraction of the £1.5 billion extra a year – for 10 years – that we believe is needed to bring roads back up to target conditions,” said Rick Green, chairman of the AIA.

Enemy of the state: Government pledges to kill the pothole

pothole uk

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has identified potholes as “the number one enemy for road users” and has pledged to provide £22.9 million for research into new repair techniques.

The government will work with eight local authorities to carry out real-world tests of new road surfaces and technologies, with the aim of identifying a ‘prevention rather than cure’ approach to pothole repair.

Around £1.6 million will be spent on the extension of Cumbria’s existing trial of the use of plastic roads. The local authority was the first in England to incorporate plastic-based material from recycled waste into the asphalt used for resurfacing.

The equivalent of 500,000 plastic bottles and more than 800,000 one-use plastic carrier bags have been used to resurface sections of the A7 in Carlisle.

Other projects include a trial of adapting lighting columns for use as charging points or wi-fi hubs in Suffolk, using kinetic energy to charge roadside battery units in Buckinghamshire, and the use of geothermal energy to prevent footways, car parks and bus stations from freezing over in Central Bedfordshire.

‘Number one enemy’

Road workers fixing a pothole

Chris Grayling said: “Potholes are the number one enemy for road users and this government is looking at numerous ways to keep our roads in the best condition.

“Today’s trials will see how new technologies work in the real world to ensure our roads are built for the 21st century.”

In October 2018, the government made a £420 million pledge to repair Britain’s broken roads, but the problem will only get worse. 

Professor Nicholas Thom, a UK pothole expert, warned that our roads are facing a perfect storm of misery.

“The number of potholes per kilometre on a given authority’s roads depends not only on the repair budget, repair strategy and the climate – frosts are bad news – but also on a historical policy choice, namely what surfacing materials to use. It is a choice that badly needs to be reviewed.”

Severe weather to blame for rise in pothole compensation

Ford Focus pothole

Figures published by Highways England following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request show that nearly £330,000 has been paid out in pothole-related compensation in 2018.

In comparison, just £81,500 was given to claimants in 2017, with Highways England blaming the ‘severe weather incurred at the start of 2018’ for the huge increase. The 2018 figure is correct as of 30 November, so we suspect the current inclement weather will result in even more claims before the year is out.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the total number of potholes reported is also on the rise, with 15,524 cases in 2018, up 47 percent from 2017. This figure is based on the number of potholes recorded on Highways England’s incident management system.

As for repairs, the Highways England maintenance contractors repaired 22,862 potholes in 2018, up from 14,104 in 2017. The number of repairs is higher than the number of claims because some potholes are repaired more than once.

Earlier this year, another FOI request revealed that an average payout for damage caused by poor road surfaces was £311.25 in 2017/18 – the highest figure over a five-year period.

We cannot blame Emma

Data released by the RAC revealed that potholes present twice as great a threat to car reliability as 12 years ago, with the company attending 14,220 pothole-related breakdowns in the 12 months leading up to October 2018.

“There is little doubt local road conditions in many parts of the country are sub-standard and have been so for quite some time,” said RAC chief engineer David Bizley.

“Data from this quarter’s RAC Pothole Index supports this, showing there has been a steady deterioration in road conditions over the last 18 months, with the latest quarter not showing a significant improvement. We cannot simply blame Storm Emma and the Beast from the East, even though they certainly made matters worse.”

In the autumn budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced plans to give local councils in England an extra £420m to tackle the pothole crisis, although the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) said that this would only be enough to scratch the surface.

In response to the budget, Rick Green, chairman of AIA, said: “The additional funds announced today will go some way towards tackling the annual shortfall local authorities have in their highway maintenance budgets, but remains significantly less than the £1.5 billion extra a year we believe is needed to bring local roads up to target conditions so that they can be maintained in a cost-effective way in the future.”

“Whilst today’s announcement recognises the important role local roads play in supporting the economy and keeping communities connected, it is not enough to stop the on-going decline of the local road network caused as a result of years of underfunding. Hopefully, it is a welcome first step towards sustained annual increases in local road maintenance funding.”

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The worst cars for potholed roads

The worst cars for potholed roads

The worst cars for potholed roads

If there’s two things we like to complain about, it’s the weather and the state of Britain’s roads. Sadly, in both cases, we seem powerless to do anything about it, but while a rainy day is unlikely to leave you out of pocket, a potholed road could cost you thousands of pounds.

Online car and maintenance expert MotorEasy has analysed its database of 30,000 warranty customers to identify the top repair claims for axle and suspension damage. Spoiler alert: hitting a pothole could leave a serious dent in your wallet. Here are the top 10 claims in the last 12 months.

10. 2008 Nissan Qashqai: £486

The worst cars for potholed roads

The Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance Survey (ALARM) revealed that 24,000 miles of UK roads need repairing within the next year, so be prepared for more pothole dodging over the next 12 months. According to MotorEasy, the owner of a 2008 Nissan Qashqai claimed £486 for a suspension/axle repair.

That’s more than the average cost of a suspension claim, which stands at £297. You might think that the nation’s most popular crossover is tough enough to tackle the mean streets, but it’s no match for a potholed road.

9. 2011 BMW 5 Series: £495

The worst cars for potholed roads

Meanwhile, the owner of a 2011 5 Series claimed £495 for suspension and axle damage, presumably following an unfortunate incident involving a British pothole.

Duncan McClure Fisher, MotorEasy founder said: “Potholes can prove to be a costly problem for motorists, causing damage that can run into thousands of pounds. With the ALARM report showing that a huge number of roads are still in poor condition, this is a problem that could plague many British drivers for months to come.”

8. 2008 Volvo XC70: £650

The worst cars for potholed roads

You’d think that a jacked-up off-road estate car would have no problem dealing with a potholed road. But while a Volvo XC70 is at home on a green lane or a gymkhana car park, it’s not immune to the curse of a pothole.

Did you know that it’s possible to report a pothole to the government? Head to www.gov.uk/report-pothole and enter the postcode of the unwanted crevice.

7. 2013 Hyundai ix35: £809

The worst cars for potholed roads

When a 2013 Hyundai ix35 met a pothole, it cost £809 to repair the damage. That’s around 10 percent of the value of a 2013 ix35. Ouch.

According to Potholes.co.uk, potholes are estimated to cause as many as one in 10 mechanical failures in the UK, costing motorists an estimated £730 million every year.

6. 2008 Land Rover Discovery: £884

The worst cars for potholed roads

The Land Rover Discovery might have developed a reputation for its ability to climb every mountain and ford every stream, but a British pothole could stop this off-roader in its tracks.

Residents in Bangor were delighted to discover a 1.5m hole dubbed the “biggest in Bangor” had been filled in by the makers of The Voyage of Dr Dolittle. The filmmakers offered to repair the hole as part of a deal to film at the location.

5. 2011 BMW 5 Series: £953

The worst cars for potholed roads

It’s the 2011 BMW 5 Series again, this time with a claim of £953. On this evidence, owners of F10/F11 5 Series will be taking extra care on their way home from the office this evening.

According to the Hull Daily Mail, the potholes on one street are up to five inches deep, with one resident saying: “I have a five-inch deep pothole outside my house that wakes me up in the morning when people drive over it. It’s dangerous and I’m worried about a cyclist going over the handlebars.” BMW 5 Series drivers should avoid Thoresby Street, Hull.

4. 2008 Alfa Romeo Brera: £1,036

The worst cars for potholed roads

Meanwhile, still in Hull, one garage owner said he is fixing cars wrecked by potholes every week. Wayne Sargeson told the Hull Daily Mail: “We easily replace one or two snapped coils a week now. Going back a couple of years, we’d only maybe do one a month.”

The first claim to run into four figures is a repair job on a 2008 Alfa Romeo Brera. But why are the roads in such a poor state? It’s a combination of factors, including councils lacking the funds to repair them, and the effects of the winter weather, including the ‘Beast from the East’.

3. 2011 Ford Galaxy: £1,697

The worst cars for potholed roads

You can buy a 2011 Ford Galaxy from upwards of £3,500, which means that this claim for repairs represents a sizeable proportion of the car’s value. Just as well it was covered by an aftermarket warranty.

Drivers aren’t alone in their pothole misery. A recent YouGov poll for Cycling UK found that more than half of people would cycle more if the roads were in a better condition. Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns, said: “Cycling is still a minority activity in the UK with only 2 percent of all journeys made by bike. Those who do cycle put up with the potholes and dangerous traffic conditions daily and still continue.”

2. 2008 Audi Q7: £3,528

The worst cars for potholed roads

Imagine hitting a pothole and finding out that it had caused £3,528 worth of damage. When a mechanic takes a sharp intake of breath before presenting you with the bill, that’s normally the time to prime your wallet for action.

On Friday 13 January 2017, the Department for Transport announced funding for a so-called ‘Pothole Spotter’ trial, with Thurrock, Wiltshire and York councils using vehicle-based cameras to identify potholes when out on the road.

1. 2012 Range Rover Sport: £3,863

The worst cars for potholed roads

Meanwhile, the world-first BridgeCat uses sensors to measure the damage caused by floodwater. Crucially, the system uses sonar and underwater cameras to assess damage before the flood water has receded. This tech has come too late for the owner of one Range Rover Sport…

Hitting a pothole resulted in a whopping £3,863 of repair bills, which must have been hard to stomach. If you see a pothole, be sure to report it to your local council or via the government website.

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RAC pothole

RAC proves potholes ARE getting worse

RAC potholeIf you think Britain’s roads are littered with more potholes these days, RAC breakdown data suggests you may be right: vehicle breakdowns caused by bad roads have risen a whopping 125% between 2006-2016.

The sort of things that are damaged when you hit a pothole – components such as dampers, suspension springs and bent wheels – made up 0.4% of RAC callouts in 2006. By 2016, this had risen to almost 1% of callouts.

“Our analysis… unequivocably confirms what most road users already know, which is that the condition of our local roads has deteriorated drastically in the last decade,” said RAC chief engineer David Bizley.

“This analysis suggests that the quality of the UK’s roads suffered a steady decline from the start of 2007 through to the end of 2009, presumably due to lack of investment in maintenance and resurfacing during worsening economic times.”

Since then, there has not been sufficient funding to fix the backlog.

“Although 0.9% (of call-outs) seems low, the growth in this type of call-out is indisputable. With few exceptions, it’s the vehicle owner who picks up the bill, adding up to millions of pounds each year.”

And motorists are fed up. The RAC Report on Motoring shows the state of Britain’s local roads is their number one gripe and 50% feel the condition of roads in their area has declined over the past year.

One in three thus want the government to prioritise fixing Britain’s roads above everything else and a further half rate extra investment here as a top-5 priority.

Not something that’s going to happen soon though, says the RAC: “The effect of insufficient investment over much of the last decade care going to take some considerable time to rectify,” warns Bizley.

Google patents GPS system to help you avoid potholes

Google patents GPS system to help you avoid potholes

Google patents GPS system to help you avoid potholes

Google has patented a system that will let your sat nav warn you of bumpy roads using sensors fitted to other vehicles.

The GPS system will monitor vibrations inside cars to work out how bumpy a road is and pinpoint where potholes are.

This will then let you choose an alternative, smoother route avoiding the most potholed roads.

The data is also likely to be passed onto Google’s own self-driving cars to provide a more comfortable ride for their passengers.

The company already uses GPS data from phones running Google Maps to monitor traffic conditions and provide routes which avoid jams.

A similar system is already in the pipeline from Jaguar Land Rover. This uses sensors to profile the road’s surface and adjust the car’s dampers in preparation for hitting a pothole.

This information can also be shared between cars fitted with this system – and JLR is also working on using it to report deteriorating road surfaces with local councils.

Potholes are motorists’ biggest gripe

Potholes are motorists’ biggest gripe

Reducing the number of potholes should be a high priority for the next government, according to a survey by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).

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