ROAD SAFETY and breakdown recovery specialist GEM Motoring Assist is warning motorists of the continued danger posed by the UK’s poorly maintained roads, and is urging the government to take action to clear the disgraceful £10 billion maintenance backlog that has been allowed to build up.
Recent figures from the World Economic Forum show the UK dropping from 24th to 28th place for the quality of its road infrastructure, putting it behind Chile, Cyprus and Croatia - and on a par with the southern African state of Namibia.
GEM chief executive David Williams MBE said: “The UK road network is in an appalling state. This has an enormous financial impact on motorists, who most of the time must bear the cost of repairs to paintwork, suspension and tyres. Those who can’t afford these repairs risk making journeys in vehicles that are potentially unsafe.
“Our telephone lines continue to be very busy with enquiries from members with questions about pothole damage to their vehicles, so we are today offering advice that will not only keep them safe on their journeys but will also help them deal with the consequences of pothole damage.”
Stay safe on the road
Always be aware of dangerous potholes on your journeys. If necessary, plan to use routes with fewer or no potholes.
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 there is a big enough gap to allow you to slow down safely.
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.
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
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 it is not aware of.
Your local council website will guide you to the right procedure for reporting a pothole.
Main roads are the responsibility of the Highways Agency, not the local authority, so call them on 0300 123 5000. This number is available 24 hours a day.
Build a case
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.
Note when you went through it, what direction you were travelling and approximately how wide and deep you believe it to have been.
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.
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.
Then write to the local authority, including all the details and requesting a settlement of your claim.
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 it is carrying out the system it claims to have in place.
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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