Bad roads damaging one in five cars
Drivers whose vehicles have been damaged by neglected and potholed roads have lodged thousands of compensation claims against councils in the past two years.
According to Britannia Rescue, 54,436 claims have been made against councils in little more than two years for everything from potholes ruining wheel rims to punctured tyres and damaged suspension.
The data shows that local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland paid out a total of £4.8 million in compensation for pothole or other road damage between 2010-11 and 2011-12. One of the country's largest local authorities, Surrey County Council, topped the list with pay-outs amounting to more than £630,000 since 2010.
The combination of a wet summer and a cold winter has particularly harmed road surfaces with potholes forming after water seeps down below the road surface and freezes, loosening the asphalt. This then thaws, and rain as well as passing traffic exacerbates the damage.
The problem is that road maintenance in the UK is severely under-funded with just £17 spent per driver on maintaining road surfaces and fixing potholes - a mere 11% of the annual road tax bill.
According to the data, the average repair bill is £132, with some claims as high as £3,000. At the same time the average cost of repairing a pothole is around £50, meaning the amount paid out by councils in compensation could have been used to repair more than 96,000 potholes.
Among all drivers, one in eight (13%) have suffered car damage as a result of poor road surfaces in the past two years. The most common damage includes punctured or damaged tyres, (45%), problems with suspension (40%), wheel rim damage (26%) and steering damage (12%). Over 1.1 million drivers have broken down as a result of neglected roads, and one in 10 (10%) drivers have swerved to avoid a pothole and nearly had an accident.
Among all motorists, three quarters (76%) believe road surfaces are now in a worse state than they were five years ago with 49% saying they are much worse.
Peter Horton, Britannia Rescue Managing Director, said: "The past two harsh winters caused significant damage to the UK's roads, which has not been fully repaired yet. Cuts in road maintenance funding mean that local authorities face very difficult choices on the roads they prioritise for repair. Motorists should protect themselves by keeping an eye out for potholes and keeping speeds down - particularly in wet weather when holes may be filled by rain."
For more information on Britannia Rescue, visit britanniarescue.com.