In the winter of 2010-11, several separate cold snaps led to a dramatic increase in the number of potholes on Britain’s roads. Local authorities, whose finances were already stretched to breaking point by falling income from central governments over the years, faced an uphill battle to repair the roads before the number of accidents reached epidemic levels.
Sadly, as the beginnings of winter 2011-12 start to take hold, the UK’s roads are likely to become even more dangerous than last year. Local authorities carried out huge numbers of repairs over the previous 12 months, but they are unable to afford lasting repairs that will withstand the vagaries of more cold weather.
Lack of money a significant factor
Despite increased emergency payments from the government, local and regional councils didn’t have enough cash to effect permanent repairs, which are significantly more expensive than the predominantly temporary solutions. Another period of freezing weather and heavy snow will lead to more damage to these holes in the coming months, leading to a miserable winter for all road users, as well as a financial headache for councillors.
Depending on the size and the depth of an individual pothole, the harm that can be done to a car will vary. One of the more common outcomes is a damaged tyre, caused by the sudden collision against the rear or side of the pothole edge, although there can also be serious damage to the suspension and even to the bodywork around the wheel arch.
It’s worse for those on two wheels
For road users on two wheels, however, the outcome can be far worse than mechanical problems. A deep pothole is almost impossible to see on dark roads, of course, and even in daylight it will represent a major issue for cyclists and motorcyclists. In some cases, potholes have even led to fatalities.
Many local authorities have a pothole hotline, which members of the public can call whenever they spot a dangerous hole starting to appear. It’s a sad but inevitable fact, however, that they are often unable to act quickly enough to affect a repair before it’s too late, and someone is injured or even killed.
Throughout the 2010-11 winter period, the legal community dealt with thousands of accident compensation claims in regard to pothole damage and injury. It’s worth remembering that the local authority has a legal duty to provide safe roads for users in all types of vehicle, and when they fail to do so they are responsible for the consequences.
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