Britain’s roads are peppered with almost 200,000 potholes, approximately one for every mile of road in Great Britain, according to council data obtained via a freedom of information request by Britannia Rescue.
A study by Britannia Rescue suggests that UK councils received 32,600 compensation claims and paid out £2.5m in compensation in the past financial year – for everything from potholes ruining wheel rims, to puncturing tyres and damaging suspension. The sum represents an increase of 79% compared with the previous year.
One of the country’s largest local authorities, Lincolnshire County Council, reported pay-outs amounting to more than £358,665 in 2012/13.
Britannia Rescue says that road maintenance in the UK is severely under-funded, with around £16 spent per driver on maintaining road surfaces and fixing potholes – less than 10% of the annual road tax bill. The company also says that "short-term fixes are often chosen over longer term solutions".
Peter Horton, Britannia Rescue managing director, said: “Britain’s pothole epidemic has resulted from years of underinvestment in our roads and has been exacerbated by recent harsh winters.
"Local authorities face difficult choices in the roads they prioritise for repair and we now have around 200,000 potholes on UK roads. Motorists should protect themselves and their vehicles by reducing their speed on potholed roads, and also reporting damaged roads to their local council.”
The AA said a third of its members had suffered pothole damage within the last two years.
A spokesperson said: “A ring-fenced £215m of emergency funding was pumped in by the Government last autumn but with winter on the horizon it looks like this may not be enough to stem the army of potholes marching across the UK’s roads.”
A DfT spokesman defended the Government’s record, saying: “We recently announced £12bn for road maintenance. The condition of local roads is the responsibility of local highway authorities.
“This Government has set aside just under £6 billion for English highway authorities over the course of the next parliament for local highways maintenance – enough to fill 19 million potholes per year.
“This is on top of the £6 billion for the maintenance of Highways Agency roads, as well as the £3.4 billion we are already providing in the period 2011 to 2015.”