Road safety charity IAM RoadSmart has said that while the £420 million in new investment to tackle Britain’s pothole crisis is welcome, it doesn’t go nearly far enough and is merely a drop in the ocean to deal with the issue.

The budget announcement on October 29 saw Chancellor Philip Hammond reveal the cash injection for our beleaguered roads, alongside a £28.8 billion fund to upgrade England’s motorways.

Mr Hammond announced £25.5 billion for Highways England for major road upgrades between 2020 and 2025 and an extra £3.5 billion of funding allocated to major local routes, under the jurisdiction of local councils. The £420 million for potholes is on top of an existing fund of almost £300 million.

However, IAM RoadSmart points to its recently conducted survey of over 7000 of its members, finding how disillusioned they had become with Britain’s rotten roads.

  • Some 47% – over 3400 respondents – said they had experienced damage to their car, commercial vehicle, motorbike or bicycle or personal injury as a result of hitting a pothole.
  • Around 90% had spotted a deterioration of some level in the roads they use with just over 50% rating the state of their roads as ‘much worse’ in the past three years and 38% rating them ‘worse.’
  • Some 81% – close to 6000 people – said they have noticed ‘many more’ potholes in the past three years, adding in the 13% who have seen ‘a few more,’ that gives a total of 94% who report more potholes.
  • More than 56% said they have to take avoiding action on every journey to dodge potholes, while 27% said they have to steer around a pothole every day.

What if it happens to you?

If you’re unfortunate enough to fall off after hitting a pothole, you’re going to have to prove off the local authority responsible for that particular road breached their legal duty to maintain it as set down in law (541 of the Highways Act 1980) and that this caused you to fall off. How can get a you increase your chances of being successful? Like this:

1: Photograph the pothole

A picture speaks a thousand words. While you could stand up in court and describe to the judge in great detail about the crater you fell into, some photographs will be way better. Get photos of the offending pothole as soon as you can, make sure the photos are in context, and if you can, measure the width and depth with a tape measure in shot.

2: Get witness details

Often when someone falls off their motorbike, their instinct is to get up, say they’re fine and try not to hold anyone else up. However, try and take a few minutes to gather your thoughts and if someone did witness the accident, get their details; you will more than likely need a statement off them later.

3: Get the Police report

If you’ve taken a tumble and the police do turn up, get a reference number from them and details of where they are based. The country has different police forces and if you know where the copper is from, know the accident location and have a reference number, you can apply to the correct force for a police report if you need it.

4: Plan and get organised

In my experience, just about every applicable local authority denies liability (at least initially) following a pothole accident. However, dont be deterred as people do take on ‘The State’ and win. However, evidence is the key in winning your case, so get organised and plan how you are going to tell your story to the judge, so they can understand how you fell off and why its the applicable authority’s fault.

Andrew Prendergast

White Dalton Motorcycle Solicitors