Pothole soar by a third

New research has found that potholes cost UK drivers £915m last year – up more than a third on the previous year, not because of greater damage caused but because of an increase in incidents.

The £915m figure is a sharp rise from the £684m recorded two years ago. The average cost of repairing damage to components including tyres, wheels, suspension and bodywork has risen only slightly – from £108.60 in 2016 to £111. However, the number of drivers whose vehicles have suffered damage has skyrocketed over the last 24 months – from 6.3 million drivers a year to 8.2 million – leading to the total bill for repairs increasing by £231 million.

The survey found that 70% of drivers say they have hit at least one pothole a week over the last 12 months, with a quarter (25%) hitting one every single day. Drivers in the north west of the country have the worst experience, with over a third (36%) of drivers suffering a pothole impact on a daily basis.

Drivers give a combination of factors as the reasons for hitting potholes. Most (88%) of drivers cited road or weather conditions, such as the pothole being hidden by a puddle or it being too dark to spot, but many (47%) also said they had to make a deliberate decision to hit the pothole as avoiding it would have compromised their own safety, and that of other road users. Almost one in ten drivers (9%) admitted that the impact was their own fault, as they were either not paying attention to the road surface or driving too fast to stop in time.

The state of certain roads is also changing driver habits – with 12% driving longer routes to avoid poor quality roads and five per cent buying cheaper tyres.

Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, which commissioned the report, said, The poor condition of the road network is hitting motorists’ wallets ever harder. Unfortunately, experience of past years has shown us that the recent cold weather will only make the problem worse and we are likely to see even more drivers suffering serious damage from impacts with potholes.

‘It’s important to note that while sometimes a pothole will cause a blow out to a tyre, in many cases the damage is not immediately obvious. Often a pothole can cause a slow puncture, bulge on the inside tyre wall or hairline crack in the wheel rim which only becomes evident days after the impact. If any driver is concerned about the potential damage which a pothole has caused, they can bring it in to one of our centres and we will put their car on a ramp and carry out a thorough inspection to put their mind at ease.’