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GEM warns of pothole dangers following years of neglect

Thursday, April 19, 2018 - 09:06
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Road safety and breakdown recovery specialist GEM Motoring Assist is warning motorists of the continued danger posed by the UK’s poorly-maintained roads. The call follows last month’s publication of the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey, in which the dire state of local roads was confirmed.

GEM road safety officer Neil Worth said: “The UK road network is in an appalling state, with more than 24,000 miles of road in need of repair during the next 12 months and one in five local roads in danger of failing in the next five years.

“Potholes have an enormous financial impact on motorists, who most of the time must bear the cost of repairs to paintwork, suspension and tyres – even though they have already paid for local road maintenance through their council tax.

“Those drivers who can’t afford these repairs risk making journeys in vehicles that are potentially unsafe.

GEM’s phone lines continue to be busy with enquiries from members with questions about pothole damage to their vehicles. The organisation is therefore offering advice that will not only help to keep drivers safe on their journeys but will also assist them in dealing with the consequences of pothole damage.

Stay safe on the road

  1. Always be aware of dangerous potholes on your regular journeys. If necessary, find an alternative route.
  2. Remember to keep your distance from the car in front. Motorists will often brake or swerve suddenly if they have spotted a pothole too late, so ensure you are far enough away to slow down safely.
  3. Make sure you stick to the speed limit and slow down on smaller roads and residential streets where potholes may be prevalent. Hitting a pothole at speed will cause much more damage to your vehicle.
  4. Never swerve to avoid a pothole; always slow down or stop completely if necessary, checking that there are no cars close behind you. Drive over the pothole slowly or manoeuvre around it if it’s safe to do so.

Get something done

  1. Help your local authority and report any dangerous potholes that are causing problems in the area. After all, your local authority cannot be held liable for a defect they are not aware of.
  2. Your local council website will guide you to the right procedure for reporting a pothole.
  3. Main roads are the responsibility of national agencies such as Highways England, not the local authority. Go to www.gov.uk/report-pothole or call them on 0300 123 5000. This number is available 24 hours a day.

Build a case

  1. If you believe you have a valid claim for pothole damage, make sure you are able to give the exact location of the offending pothole.
  2. Note when you went through it, what direction you were travelling and approximately how wide and deep you believe it to have been.
  3. If it’s safe, stop and examine the pothole. Take photographs if you can, but don’t put yourself or anyone else at risk in the process.
  4. Obtain quotes for any repairs that may be required. Keep copies of these, along with receipts and invoices, if they form part of your claim.
  5. Then write to the local authority, including all the details and requesting a settlement of your claim.
  6. Expect a rejection, as the local authority will most likely explain that it has a system of regular inspection and repair. But you can check what the council may be liable for, and can take steps to make sure they are carrying out the system they claim to have.
  7. If you feel your case is strong enough, it may be worth getting legal advice or taking your case to the small claims court. However, be aware that it could end up being a lengthy and costly process.

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