£6,500 paid out every day for pothole damage to cars
LOCAL authorities across the UK have paid out at least £4.8 million in compensation for pothole damage to vehicles over the past two years, according to a survey released today.
The payouts are equivalent to more than £6,500 every day.
Since 2010, more than 54,000 compensation claims have been made to councils for vehicle damage caused by neglected roads. More than one in eight drivers (13 per cent) has suffered car damage as a result of poor road surfaces since 2010, while three in four motorists (76 per cent) believe roads are now in a worse state than they were five years ago.
According to the data, the average repair bill is £132, with some claims as high as £3,000. The average cost of repairing a pothole is around £50, meaning the amount paid out by councils in compensation could have been used to repair more than 96,000 potholes.
The data was obtained from local authorities in Scotland, England and Wales under freedom of information laws.
Britannia Rescue found 54,436 claims had been made against councils for repairs ranging from ruined wheel rims to punctured tyres and damaged suspension.
A total of 16 out of 32 councils in Scotland responded with the information requested. Of these, Aberdeen City paid out the highest amount: £36,847 since 2010.
Stirling Council was in second place, with £31,115 worth of claims, while Dumfries and Galloway came third after paying motorists £30,038 in compensation.
The combination of a wet summer and a cold winter has particularly harmed road surfaces, with potholes forming after water seeps below the surface and freezes, loosening asphalt. This then thaws, and rain as well as passing traffic exacerbates the damage.
Peter Horton, Britannia Rescue managing director, said: “The past two harsh winters caused significant damage to the UK’s roads, which has not been fully repaired yet.
“Cuts in road maintenance funding mean that local authorities face very difficult choices on the roads they prioritise for repair. Motorists should protect themselves by keeping an eye out for potholes and keeping speeds down – particularly in wet weather when holes may be filled by rain.”
Campaigners said road maintenance in the UK is severely underfunded, with just £17 spent per driver on maintaining road surfaces and fixing potholes – a mere 11 per cent of the annual road tax bill.
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said money spent compensating motorists would be better spent improving roads.
“Every pound spent on compensation is a pound wasted,” said Mr Greig.
“However, the Scottish Government has just finished a big report on road maintenance, which involves local authorities working closer together and sharing services.
“We are just at the start of a process to try to improve the situation but ultimately it comes down to investment.
A spokesman for Cosla, the organisation representing local authorities in Scotland, said: “We endorsed the publication of the National Roads Maintenance Review and its commitment to greater sharing of services, recognising that, in the short to medium term, this is the best mechanism for continuing to deliver road maintenance service improvements.”
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