Pothole damage: what you need to know

As autumn transforms to winter again, the decline in the weather will inevitably create adverse driving conditions, including pothole damage. Britain’s recent winters have been particularly harsh, with build ups of snow and ice in many areas. This has resulted in a backlog of roads needing urgent repairs.

What this means for motorist is an increasing risk of encountering potholes.

Pothole damage: causes and solutions

The problem with pothole damage is the sheer numbers of potholes blighting roads throughout the UK. Whenever there has been rain, water seeps right into the roads. As temperatures drop overnight this can freeze, loosening the asphalts. Successive snowfalls and thaws have an exaggerated effect on this. But the key culprit in transforming loose asphalt into potholes is passing traffic. Cuts to council budgets mean that many dangerous potholes are left while maintenance is targeted at other areas.

When a vehicle actually hits a pothole, the degree of damage depends on factors such as the depth and size of the affected area and the vehicle's speed. Insurance companies are bracing themselves for claims that will cover everything from wheel damage, buckled suspension or bodywork, right down to even more extreme cases where drivers have lost control and crashed.

Deep potholes can cause significant damage. Another problem is that during wet conditions these may not be so obvious, as water will give the false impression that a hole is just another puddle.

The effects of hitting a pothole are not always apparent. When tyre walls are damaged, an actual blow-out could occur some time after the collision with the pothole. When tracking gets damaged, this leads to excessive tyre wear, affecting braking and cornering.

Motorists can protect themselves by keeping a sharp watch for potholes and keeping speeds down - particularly in wet weather when holes may be filled by rainwater. The holes are most likely to form on worn out roads, around old repairs and iron works.

How to combat pothole damage

To minimise pothole damage, drive carefully, especially on secondary roads. Your speed should always drop when the weather is wet but this is crucial when rainwater could be hiding potholes. After hitting a pothole, when convenient, check your wheels and tyres. Also, report potholes, as insurance companies are more likely to honour claims resulting from known collision black spots.

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