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Adam Jolley

UK potholes combined reach a depth of 40km - almost four times as deep as the Pacific

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Councils fork out thousands on repairs as Confused.com animation shows just how deep the UK’s pothole problem goes.

Pothole in road

In 2016, a whopping 1,031,787 potholes were reported by drivers, new research from Confused.com has revealed. 

Combined, the total number of potholes in the UK would reach a depth of 40km – almost four times deeper than the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench (11,000m).

Councils fork out thousands on repairs

The figures were obtained from local authorities around the country, who were also asked the minimum depth of a road defect to be considered a pothole, and the size of their yearly repair bill.

In total, local authorities had to fork out £3.1m to compensate victims of pothole damage last year. 

Of any local authority, Wiltshire Council made the biggest payout to victims of pothole damage – over half a million pounds in total.

And it’s not just the level of compensation which varies from place to place. The cost of repair is also something which seems to be more expensive in some areas more than others.

For example, Westminster City Council paid an average of £2,400 per pothole in 2016.

Biggest compensation pay-outs

Local authority Total compensation payout (2016) Number of potholes (2016)
Wiltshire £507,546 6,803
Surrey £343,685 31,104
Cardiff £288,025 2,928
Hampshire £152,630 12,072
Staffordshire £117,239 11,526

The true depth of the problem

To highlight the true scale of the problem, Confused.com has created a scrolling animation that dives deep into the earth’s crust and beyond.

view the full interactive

A third of drivers suffer pothole damage

The UK’s pothole issue has not gone unnoticed by motorists. One in three has suffered damage to their vehicle as a result of poor road surfaces. 

The damage was overwhelmingly caused to drivers’ tyres (64%) and their suspension (42%). 

And even though councils spent £104m on repairing potholes in 2016 – an average cost of £245 per pothole – 69% of drivers think they should do more to tackle the problem. 

Drivers urged to report damage

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, says: “Scrolling to depths of 40km really puts the UK’s pothole problem into perspective. 

“They’re a major bugbear among drivers, not least because of the damage they do to our vehicles – around £3.1m’s worth.”

Amanda says drivers should report pothole damage to their local council as soon as possible before the problem gets any worse. 

“The cost of motoring alone is getting more and more expensive, and damage repair is a big contributor to this, as car parts increase in price as well,” adds Amanda.

Car damaged by a pothole? Our guide tells you how to make a claim.

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