Almost a third of UK motorists have had their vehicles damaged by a pothole in the past year or have suffered a personal injury as a result, a new study has found.
An independent survey by UK firm Select Car Leasing has shed startling new light on Britain’s decaying highways.
A massive 27 per cent of respondents said their cars needed repairs after colliding with a road crater.
The problem appears to be the worst in Gloucester, with 46 per cent of residents saying they had experienced everything from flat tyres and buckled alloys to scuffs and dents after hitting a pothole.
More worrying still, countless motorists are also reporting physical injury from driving over potholes.
More than six per cent of motorists – equivalent to around 2.5 million UK driving licence holders – say they have experienced ailments like whiplash, back pain, a banged head, sore teeth or had bitten their tongue after jolting over a road dent.
Injuries were most rife in Edinburgh (19%), London (15%) and Bristol (9%).
James O’Malley, Select Car Leasing company director, predicts the perpetual pothole problem will only continue to get worse.
He said: “Local authorities are injecting millions into pothole repairs, and also into compensation payouts made to affected motorists.
“But that investment still isn’t enough to undo the years of underfunding that has led to our road network now resembling Swiss cheese.
“Not everyone reports damage caused by potholes to their council, either because they don’t know how or simply don’t want the hassle. But our stats show just how many people experience it.
“As we continue to experience shocking weather conditions that have made recent months particularly damp and miserable – and with the promise of more snow and ice on the way – it’s highly likely road conditions will deteriorate further, prompting even more claims for vehicle damage and personal injury.”
Your car’s suspension is one of the key areas damaged by potholes, with broken ball joints, misalignment and damaged shocks or struts commonly reported.
Tyres are prone to punctures and blow outs, with Select Car Leasing urging drivers to keep their tyre pressures at the correct levels to limit the carnage.
Meanwhile, buckled wheels and damaged exhausts are also a real risk.
Mr O’Malley added: “In cold weather, your tyre pressure drops as the air inside contracts and shrinks. If a tyre is inflated to 29 PSI at 20C, it might only read 26 PSI at 0C.
“And properly inflated tyres – not too soft, not too hard – is one of the best ways to limit pothole damage.
“If your tyre pressure is too high, the impact of a pothole isn’t transferred properly through the wheel and it’s more likely to damage your vehicle’s suspension, resulting in damaged track rod ends, broken coil springs or even bent suspension wishbones.
“In winter we should all be keeping a really close eye on our tyre pressures. Consult the recommended PSI in your vehicle’s handbook and check them at least once a week.”
Injuries caused by potholes are also not limited to those behind the wheel of a car.
Stats revealed by Cycling UK showed more than 250 cyclists were killed or seriously injured in crashes caused by potholes between 2014 and 2019.
A spokesperson for the group said: “Cycling UK wants the Government to adopt a ‘fix it first’ policy and invest in repairing local roads before building highways — after all, what use are highways if the roads we use to get to them are crumbling?”
Meanwhile, separate figures released by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) showed how local authorities spent some £1billion fixing around 700,000 road defects across the country between 2018 and 2019.
Mr O’Malley said: “Potholes are the bane of many motorists’ lives and they’re not going away any time soon.
“The Government strategy still appears to rely on cheap short-term road fixes rather than high-quality infrastructure repairs.
“With that in mind it’s important motorists themselves take steps to minimise the damage.”
If your car is damaged by a pothole and you want to make a claim for compensation, make detailed notes, take photographs of the crater and get the contact details for anyone who saw you hitting it.
You should then report the pothole to your local authority to ensure no-one else hits it and to make sure the council is fully aware that the crater exists.
When you get your car repaired, keep all quotes, invoices and receipts to support your compensation claim.
And then make your claim proper by writing to the council responsible for the road, including all your supporting evidence and copies of receipts.
VEHICLE DAMAGE FROM POTHOLES - 27 per cent of respondents
(I have experienced a flat tyre, buckled alloy, scuff, dent or other damage to my car as a result of hitting a pothole in the past 12 months)
PHYSICAL INJURY FROM POTHOLES - 6 per cent of respondents
(I have had a physical injury as a result of hitting a pothole when driving (whiplash, hurting back, hitting head, clacking teeth, biting tongue, etc.)
TOP TEN WORST REGIONS FOR POTHOLE DAMAGE TO CARS 2020:
London - 44 per cent
North East - 33 per cent
South West - 31 per cent
South East - 27 per cent
North West - 27 per cent
East Midlands - 26 per cent
Wales - 25 per cent
Northern Ireland - 24 per cent
West Midlands - 21 per cent
East Anglia - 14 per cent
TOP TEN WORST CITIES FOR POTHOLE DAMAGE TO CARS 2020:
Gloucester - 45 per cent
Cardiff - 38 per cent
Coventry - 37.5 per cent
Plymouth - 37.5 per cent
London - 33 per cent
Newcastle - 32 per cent
Bristol - 30.2 per cent
Manchester - 30 per cent
Edinburgh - 29.6 per cent
Aberdeen - 27 per cent
TOP TEN WORST REGIONS FOR INJURY CAUSED BY POTHOLES 2020:
London - 27 per cent
North West - 7 per cent
Scotland - 6 per cent
Northern Ireland - 5 per cent
South West - 5 per cent
South East - 4 per cent
East Anglia - 3 per cent
East Midlands - 2.8 per cent
North East - 2 per cent
Wales - 1.5 per cent
TOP TEN WORST CITIES FOR INJURY CAUSED BY POTHOLES 2020:
Edinburgh - 19 per cent
London - 15 per cent
Bristol - 9 per cent
Manchester - 7 per cent
Oxford - 7 per cent
Southampton - 5 per cent
Belfast - 4.7 per cent
Norwich - 4 per cent
Sheffield - 3.3 per cent
Liverpool - 3 per cent
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