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Drivers face £1 million-a-month bill for pothole repairs

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Poorly maintained roads has led to a steep rise in vehicle damage, but experts say government repair plans don't go far enough.


Car driving past a puddle

Failure to deal with Britain’s crumbling road network is currently costing motorists around £1 million a month in repair bills.

This is according to the RAC, which said that it had seen an 82% increase in the number of suspension-spring faults that its patrols have been called out to deal with so far this year.

‘Casts a cloud’

RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “The sharp increase in suspension faults that we have seen across the country really does cast a cloud on the quality of our roads.

“We will be closely monitoring these figures in the coming months to see whether the trend continues.”

The RAC’s findings come shortly after the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) published the 2015 edition of its report on the state of the UK’s roads.

The AIA said that the amount of money needed to restore the network to a “reasonable condition” had risen to £12.16 billion.

This is despite the fact local authority spending on road maintenance had risen in the past 12 months.

Temporary fixes

According to the AIA, most of the last year’s maintenance spending had been on temporarily filling potholes rather than making permanent repairs to road surfaces.

Alan Mackenzie, AIA chairman, said:

“Research has shown that adopting an ‘invest to save’ approach pays dividends − with every planned investment in the road network providing long-term savings of more than twice the value.

“Moving forward, we need planned structural maintenance, resurfacing, strengthening and reconstruction.”

Ministers have pledged £6 billion towards restoring the road network between 2015 and 2021.

‘Only enough to tread water’

Mackenzie said: “This is welcome, and hopefully will be confirmed by an incoming government.

“But the truth is that although it sounds like a big investment, it will only be enough for local authorities to tread water.

It will do nothing to tackle the backlog or prevent continuing deterioration.”

Bizley at the RAC said it was not only suspensions that were susceptible to pothole damage.

“The problems caused by bad quality road surfaces can also affect shock absorbers, tyres and wheels,” he added.

Soaring compensation bills

Mechanic looking underneath a car

Replacing suspension springs in a typical vehicle costs as much as £350, the RAC said.

The AIA report showed that there had been a dramatic increase in the amount of money paid out in compensation to drivers by local authorities.

In England, excluding London, more than £20.2 million had been paid out in the preceding 12 months, double last year’s rate.

The administrative costs incurred by councils in dealing with these claims had also soared to almost £18 million.

Making a claim

Claiming from a local authority or highways agency for damage caused to your car by badly maintained roads is straightforward, provided you gather the right evidence.

We've put together a simple guide to making a successful claim.

Even if your vehicle has not been damaged, you may wish to warn the authorities of potential hazards such as potholes which need urgent attention.

This government web page lets you report a pothole via the relevant council or agency.

The website Potholes.co.uk offers a similar service and also records potholes that have been reported by other users so drivers can check for damage in any part of the country.

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