AA Driving School helping learners deal with crumbling roads

19 August 2009

AA helps learners steer a safe path through growing blight of potholes

Worsening roads are having an impact on learner drivers with many instructors reshaping lessons to tackle the dangers posed by an estimated 1.5 million potholes, according to the AA.

Feedback from AA Driving School instructors across the UK reveals that many are changing lesson routes and teaching specific driving techniques to deal with crumbling roads.

Many are either adding potholed roads to their routes to train drivers to deal with them, or making detours to avoid the worst craters which are a danger to cars and occupants.

Incidents reported by a national panel of AA Driving School instructors include:

  • tyre blow-outs, including a lesson in Stourbridge where a pupil was shaken by a double blow-out. The lesson was suspended while the pupil re-gathered his composure and the car was repaired. He later went on to pass his test
  • instructors using dual controls to prevent accidents after pupils swerved towards traffic when trying to avoid potholes
  • an instructor in west London who got out of her car at the end of a lesson, stepped into a pothole and fell to the ground breaking her leg – and was then off work for four months

The AA estimates that icy weather last winter caused a 40 per cent increase in road damage, pushing the number of potholes in the UK up to 1.5 million. AA Car Insurance received more than three times as many claims for pothole damage this spring than last – including damage to wheels, suspension and bodywork.


AA President Edmund King says: "The fabric of our local roads is a major cause for concern with surfaces crumbling and drivers at risk of damage to their vehicles and even themselves. Ultimately we all pay more through patching and mending, and then paying out compensation rather than fixing the underlying poor condition of many of our roads.

"All drivers should take care – an innocuous looking puddle may actually be a deep pothole. By training new drivers to anticipate and deal with these obstacles we will make our roads safer, preventing accidents and damage to you and your car."

Top tips from AA driving instructors

  • Look ahead and plan accordingly for any potential hazards
  • Slow down if necessary – but keep an eye on your rear view mirrors
  • Stay in your lane and avoid big swerves
  • Give driving your full attention and avoid distractions like eating or smoking

The AA is also asking drivers and riders to help identify Britain's worst potholes by taking part in the online discussion at www.theaa.com/zone.


In an AA Populus panel survey conducted in 2008 sixty four per cent of AA members across Britain said road surfaces were in a worse condition than they were 10 years ago and 40 per cent said they were much worse.

Highway authorities have a duty to maintain the roads but also have a 'statutory defence'. This means they cannot be held responsible for all their roads 24/7 and as long as they maintain a system of inspection and repair which is logged they may not be liable if a pot hole damages a vehicle or injures someone. However, if they fail to act when a pot hole (or other highway defect) is reported they may be held liable.

Drivers are advised to report pot holes to their highway authority (many have special websites and phone numbers to do this). Claims should always be lodged if severe damage or personal injury is involved – good evidence will be needed. Your insurer or a solicitor may be able to help.

Join the discussion in the AA zone


25 August 2009