Jan 052010

potholed roadMotorists are being warned about the threat of ‘invisible’ potholes after a rise in accidents.

Road maintenance campaign website, Potholes.co.uk, reports an increase in drivers failing to notice water-filled potholes until it was too late – leaving many counting the cost of the damage to their vehicles.

The problem is increased by the combined result of the recent wet and wintry weather conditions and longer hours of darkness during the winter.

“The icy conditions over Christmas and the New Year have created new potholes across the country and motorists need to watch out,” said Duncan McClure Fisher, of Warranty Direct, which set up the Potholes.co.uk site. “Treacherous ice and snow may be at the forefront of drivers’ minds as the main hazard, but potholes are another danger they need to be aware of.”

Potholes.co.uk user, Deborah Hill, from Durham, caused £290 worth of damage when she hit a pothole which had filled with rain water.

Ms Hill said: “The noise was horrendous when I hit the hole, it nearly knocked my teeth out. I had to pull in because the car felt strange. The wheel had gouges round the rim and my local garage revealed that it had knocked the tracking out completely and I had to replace the wheel.”

Experts say there has been a 65 percent rise in defects on English roads alone during the past decade, with the shortfall in funding for repairs running at an estimated £1.6bn*.

Potholes.co.uk was set up by leading automotive warranty provider, Warranty Direct, and revealed this year that the UK’s 30 million motorists pay £1 million a day repairing damage done by potholes, with the average repair bill amounting to £240.

The UK has been lashed by record rainfall, heavy snow and icy weather recently. As the temperature continues to drop below zero, the ‘freeze and thaw’ effect that sees expanding rainwater crack the road will worsen matters further.

Potholes.co.uk offers advice on how to make a compensation claim from local councils should your vehicle be damaged by a pothole and allows drivers to pinpoint pothole blackspots.

For the latest news and advice, or to report a pothole, visit www.potholes.co.uk.

Case Study 1

Simon Smith, an IT Consultant from Glasgow.

Simon was driving along Morven Road in Bearsden one night when his BMW 320D Sport hit a pothole that was filled was water and was not visible. He had a sudden jolt when he hit the pothole and not only damaged his nearside front and rear wheel, but caused him great inconvenience and several hundred pounds.

“It’s an outrage, BMW had to collect the car as it was undriveable and it took three days to get the car back. I couldn’t see the potholes as it was dark and filled with water. East Dunbartonshire Council denied the issue of potholes despite numerous complaints from me and other road users. It is such an unnecessary cost I’ve had to endure.”

Case Study 2

Mick Render, from County Durham

Mick was heading home from work one evening, along the B1628 from Morrison Road Industrial Estate in County Durham and hit a well-hidden pothole that caused considerable damage to his vehicle. His nearside rear wheel was damaged and it was such a jolt it even broke his satnav, throwing it out of its cradle.

“My passenger wheel made such a loud bang and my satnav jumped right off the windscreen, hit my gear lever and broke. It was raining heavily and I just couldn’t see the pothole for the water. I tried my best to find out how to get the pothole fixed so nobody else could be injured or incur damage. Apparently, I gave the council poor information which just wasn’t true; they just didn’t want to accept responsibility for the damage and pay out.”

Case Study 3

Deborah Hill from County Durham

Deborah was travelling along South Road in County Durham when she hit a concealed deep pothole. It was raining very heavily that day, visibility was poor and the road was covered in water. She had just put a brand new set of wheels and tyres on her Astra, which were a present for her birthday. The pothole was just left of the white lines, so even if it had been visible it would have been hard to avoid without swerving.

“The noise was horrendous when I hit the pothole, nearly knocking my teeth out. I had to pull in a little further up the road as my car felt strange to drive. I noticed my wheel had gouges round the polished rim. I had my car checked out by my local garage when I got home which revealed that I had damaged the trackrod, knocking my tracking completely out and damaging my wheel. I had to pay £290 to repair damage that wasn’t even my fault.

“I was told by Durham County Council that my claim was unsuccessful as they were not liable for the damage. I was furious and pursued the claim further only to be told that I should contact Northumbrian Water because the pothole was caused as a result of Balfour Beatty’s repair to the road.

“What a cop out! I pay my council tax and road tax and then I have to foot the bill and get nothing back. I have written to Northumbrian Water and heard nothing to this day; I am just putting it behind me now as it really makes me angry, upset and frustrated that these councils get away with murder. Why should I be out of pocket for something that is not my fault? “

Mar 222008

3rd world countryAlmost a fifth of all cars could be on the road with their drivers unaware of “potentially dangerous”, and costly, damage caused by potholes, according to leading independent mechanical breakdown insurer, Warranty Direct.

With the average motorist suffering a mechanical failure once every three years*, six million vehicles – nearly 19 percent of the cars on the road** – could have pothole-related damage that may not be immediately apparent to the driver.

“An increasing number of motorists are only discovering the kind of faults directly attributable to poor roads during an annual service or MoT,” says Duncan McClure Fisher, managing director of Warranty Direct. “That’s an alarming state of affairs given the potential danger of failures like wheel bearings, tyres and steering racks.”

Every year, around 60 percent of all claims processed by the firm relate to suspension and axle damage consistent with that caused by Britain’s rutted, and poorly-maintained, roads.

The Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance report states that there is a shortfall of £1 billion to bring the country’s roads up to standard. Last year, Warranty Direct set up the website www.Potholes.co.uk to campaign for better road maintenance, and give drivers advice on how to claim compensation from local authorities.

One car owner from the Epping Forest area told Potholes.co.uk that, having taken his car to a garage for unrelated work, he was told that one of his rear wheels had pothole-consistent damage that made his car unroadworthy.

Without proof of where and when the damage was caused, he had to fork out £535 for a new wheel, bearing kit and holding arm without being able to claim compensation from his local council.

Warranty Direct warns that components typically damaged by potholes include:

* Shock absorbers

* Suspension mountings

* Upper and lower wishbones

* Bushes

* Coil springs

* Wheel bearings

* Hub assembly

* Anti roll bar

* Anti roll bar links

* Steering rack

* Track rod ends

* Tyres

* Road wheels

* Suspension arms

Warranty Direct pays for repairs to faults discovered during regular servicing and MoTs as part of its market leading mechanical breakdown insurance policy.