18m drivers say they've spotted potholes but failed to report them
Councils may have been inundated with reports of potholes however 18 million drivers have spotted potholes but failed to report them, new AA research reveals. Drivers who have reported pot holes in UK roads are outnumbered three to one by those who would if they knew how.
As the law stands, highway authorities must be aware of significant potholes and have taken no action before drivers stand any chance of winning a claim for damage to their vehicles. A new AA Populus survey of 21,874 AA members suggests that authorities would be hit much harder by pothole reports and compensation claims if drivers reported more.
Drivers who have reported pot holes in UK roads are outnumbered three to one by those who would if they knew how.
The survey, conducted between 15 - 26 March 2013, reveals that 14% of AA members across the UK have notified local authorities of potholes. Four times as many drivers aged over 65 say they have reported potholes (19%) than those aged between 18 and 24 (5%).
More telling is the 46% of AA members who would report potholes if they had more information about how to do it. That is largely consistent across sex, age and regional responses, even reaching 44% among professionals. Top three regions for not reporting bad potholes are: Yorkshire and Humberside 66%, South East 63% and Scotland/North East 62%. And for failing to report potholes through not knowing the local authority’s procedure: London/Northern Ireland 50%, West Midlands 49%, and North East/North West/East Midlands 48%.
If drivers reported more potholes there would be more likelihood of action being taken as highway authorities become liable
Edmund King. AA president
“Obviously, it only takes one driver to report a pothole and get it logged with the council. But, the gap between those AA members that did report potholes and those that would have if they had found out how is alarming,” says Edmund King, the AA’s president.
“Councils keep an eye on the condition of their roads but driver feedback is essential for identifying sudden deterioration or a problem on more minor roads. If drivers reported more potholes there would be more likelihood of action being taken as highway authorities become liable.
“This under-reporting by 18 million drivers, whether through ignorance or apathy, is a mixed blessing for councils who would otherwise find themselves in an even deeper financial hole from compensation claims.
King adds: “The fact is though that many local highway authorities have easy to use telephone or web-based reporting systems and many of these provide useful feedback for drivers wanting to make reports. Whilst many drivers may think they are doing the work of the council by finding and reporting potholes, drivers are in fact helping themselves and others should a pothole risk continue and an accident or vehicle damage result.
“Some local roads are pothole riddled obstacle courses which could have fatal consequences for those on two wheels and cause expensive damage for those on four.”
Serious potholes should be reported to your local Highway Authority – most likely a County, City or Borough Council – so that they can undertake repairs and prevent further incidents.
The council's website will give contact details and may even include an online highway defect reporting form or special telephone number.
You can find contact details for your local authority on the gov.uk website.
Local councils are not responsible for main trunk roads so if the pothole is on a motorway or strategic A road you will have to contact the Highways Agency.
(19 April 2013)