A survey has revealed drivers in the UK claimed more than £3m in compensation for pothole damage in 2014.
The RAC study found the majority of claims were sent to local authorities in Surrey, Essex and Kent and less than 25% of the almost 50,000 applications made across the UK in the 2013-14 financial year resulted in a payment.
According to the RAC, the total value of successful pothole compensation claims amounted to £3.2m with an average payout of just £286. There were 2,525 more claims than the previous year and each claim cost £147 in administration charges regardless of how successful it was.
Although figures show there’s an average of one road defect for every 110 metres of road and potholes are responsible for damaging cars at least every 11 minutes, councils are refusing to pay out compensation in three in four cases.
This survey shows we are all being subjected to ever increasing costs in vehicle and road repairs and driver and cyclist injuries due to the UK Government’s continued underinvestment in our roads.
Ministers highlight the £4.7bn HM Government has provided in road maintenance since 2010 but the uncomfortable truth is that urgent reinvestment in the country’s roads is desperately needed if we are to avoid what many have labelled a potential pothole crisis.
We all need to use the road network and we are all sick and tired of the human and financial tolls this lack of funding is causing. Fixing our roads needs to be at the top of the agenda for the Government’s transport spending list.
We’re very used to hearing of one-off grants being provided by central government to local councils following periods of particularly harsh weather but these are only ever effective as a temporary stopgap.
It’s all very well for the Department for Transport to insist that it’s down to local councils to maintain their roads properly, but how can they possibly do this if they’re not being given the appropriate funding?
UK Government cuts from road maintenance budgets have made it incredibly hard for councils to maintain local roads. Redirecting funds towards resurfacing our roads will offer an instant boost to growth by reducing the costs to business caused by the state of our roads, improve road safety - especially in regard to cycling accident claims - and create thousands of jobs in the construction and supply sectors.
Local authorities in England estimate the maintenance backlog for repairing our roads to be an unprecedented £12bn. Despite this, Government spending on all roads across England and Wales has fallen by 22%.
This needs to stop, potholes not only cost motorists hundreds of pounds in damage every year but they also present a potentially lethal hazard for the 43% of the UK population who cycle, accounting for between 10-15% of all cycling accidents.
Tristan Hallam is a Senior Personal Injury Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
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