Potholes are one of the banes of winter driving and more seem to appear on Britain’s roads every year. Here comes the science bit: potholes are formed by water penetrating the road’s surface through cracks caused by everyday road use. When the temperature drops, this water freezes and expands which causes a rupture on the surface. When this ice melts it leaves a vacuum which then caves in under the weight of passing traffic. The freeze-thaw cycle of the British winter exacerbates this, the result- lots of pesky potholes.
Hitting a deep pothole at a low speed can damage tyres, wheels and steering alignment. Hitting one at higher velocity can result in more severe damage and may even cause you to lose control of the vehicle, resulting in accident or injury. If you do hit a pothole, stop as soon as it is safe to do so and check your wheels and tyres. If you notice your steering pulls to one side or anything unusual, such as a vibration, get the vehicle checked out pronto at a garage. These are signs of faults with the tracking or steering and ignoring them could be costly and dangerous.
Minor damage caused by potholes will not usually justify claiming on your insurance. However you may be able to claim the costs of repairs to your vehicle from the Highways Authority- most likely a city, borough or county council. All councils are obliged to accept defect reports from the public and to have a system in place to regularly inspect and repair the roads in their jurisdiction. So if you intend pursuing a claim, your first priority is to report it. You can find contact details for your local authority on the gov.uk website, however if the pothole is on a motorway or main trunk road, you should report it to The Highways Agency.
When making a claim report all details to the appropriate authority, including the location and size of the pothole, damage to your vehicle and cost of repairs. Keep all garage receipts and invoices and it is also a good idea to take photographs, both of the pothole and the damage. All of this will back up your claim.
If the damage is more severe or you have had an accident as result of hitting a pothole, you should contact your insurance company and may wish to seek legal advice.
If you have recently had a run in with a pothole and are worried about damage to tyres, wheels or steering, contact us and we will be happy to take a look.