posted 9 months ago

Pothole Breakdown Call-Outs Rise 24% In 2015

RAC responds to more call-outs for pothole related breakdowns throughout 2015 and confirms how to minimise risk on the road.

RAC, pothole related, breakdown call-outs increased 24% in 2015 compared to the previous year, the motoring organisation said. Throughout 2015, its mechanics responded to 25,487 motorists compared to 20,477 in 2014. The region with the highest percentage increase was the South-East where call-outs hit 2,686; a rise of 62%.

The most prolific area, in contrast, was East Anglia where 4,547 members requested roadside assistance. David Bizley, RAC Chief Engineer, explained: "Potholes can wreak havoc with vehicles and are therefore understandably hated by motorists”.

They typically break suspension, wheels, tyres, wishbones and subframes. 

How to claim for pothole damage

Mr Bizley added: "It is very worrying that our patrols have dealt with more pothole related breakdowns in 2015 (because) we did not experience a particularly cold winter." That is significant as potholes form via freezing and thawing. In simple terms, liquid seeps into the road surface where it is trapped. As it freezes, it expands which damages the road.

As the ice melts, it contracts into a smaller volume of water which leaves a void for more liquid. The process then repeats. The result is that vehicles are supported by an increasingly thin layer of tarmac which, eventually, collapses.

Mr Bizley emphasised the importance of maintenance. He said: “We know that a number of local authorities increased their spending in 2015 to try to catch up with some of the road maintenance and repair backlog, but this evidence indicates that there is still some way to go. In the absence of freezing conditions - which are a major cause of potholes - this suggests that some highways authorities are still losing the pothole repair fight.”

He added: “We shall only win the battle once sufficient preventative road surface maintenance is undertaken to prevent potholes appearing.”

Tips to avoid potholes

  • Keep your eyes peeled. Protect yourself and your car by keeping an eye out for potholes and watching your speed, particularly in wet weather when deep potholes may be hidden beneath puddles
  • Maintain your distance. Leave plenty of distance between your car and the vehicle in front so you can see potholes in advance
  • Stay alert. Be aware of other traffic or pedestrians on the road before changing course to avoid a pothole
  • Watch your speed. Striking potholes at higher speeds can cause more damage to your vehicle
  • Avoid unnecessary braking. Try not to apply your brakes when driving over a pothole. When you brake you tilt the vehicle forward placing more stress on the front suspension
  • Drive over potholes with care. If you have to drive over a pothole, allow the wheel to roll freely into the hole
  • Hold the steering wheel correctly. Make sure you are holding the steering wheel properly – ‘10 to 2’ hands position – when driving on a road with potholes – failure to do so may mean you lose control of your vehicle
  • Recovering lost parts. If your vehicle sustains damage while travelling, such as a lost hubcap, ensure you stop in a safe location before attempting to recover it
  • Safety first. If you wish to inspect any damage to your car, ensure that you stop in a safe place
  • Get checked out. If you have hit a pothole and suspect your car has sustained damage, we recommend you get the vehicle checked out by your local garage. Ask them to verify if there could be any other issues such as problems with tracking and wheel alignment, tyres or suspension
  • Check tyre pressure regularly. Checking your tyre pressure regularly to ensure safety as a line of defence against potholes. Recommended tyre pressures can be found in your vehicle's handbook and on the label located inside the driver’s side door frame or doorpost