Pothole peril: time for a little understanding

Workmen marking potholes for repair


Potholes. They can damage our cars and even cause breakdowns, making them one of our least favourite things about driving. So what is it about these hideous hazards that you should be aware of, apart from the need to avoid them?

The problem with potholes

Potholes are a real danger on our roads. They can damage wheels, tyres, axles and suspension; loose chippings from potholes can fly up and crack your windscreen; and sometimes potholes can even cause accidents with drivers braking or swerving suddenly to avoid them, or motorcyclists riding into them.

The safe way to avoid potholes

The best way to spot and hopefully avoid a pothole up ahead is making sure you’re leaving plenty of room between you and the car in front of you – the ‘two second rule’, where you leave at least a 2 second gap between you and the car in front, is something all drivers should do regardless of any potential pothole perils. Keeping an eye on your speed and driving in a way that’s suitable for the road conditions also gives you more time to see any pesky potholes coming and help you avoid them. A puddle could be hiding a sneaky pothole in wet weather too, so be careful when you’re driving through any.

Potholes could occur during heavy rain

Why do potholes never seem to go away?

Potholes are caused when the road surface cracks, due to bad weather and traffic, and water seeps through to the sand and stone underneath. Here it begins to wash everything away and the road surface collapses, leaving a nasty hole right in the path of your wheels. The hole will continue to grow until it’s properly repaired. Our cold, wet (miserable) winters here in the UK only make this worse.

So you’ve hit a pothole – what should you do?

If you're unfortunate enough to hit a pothole, you should pull over somewhere safe and check for damage. It’s dangerous to drive with a flat tyre or uneven steering, so make sure you get off the road as soon as it’s safe to do so. Even if you can’t see anything wrong, if you think you could have done some unseen damage it’s a good idea to head to your local garage and get your car looked at by a mechanic, just in case.

If you’ve got breakdown cover keeping the details handy is a great idea – just in case a pothole pitfall means you can’t carry on driving.

Reporting the pothole

No one can do anything about the pothole unless you report it! Luckily it’s pretty easy to do this online – if you’re in England or Wales click here, if you’re in Scotland click here. As well as where the pothole is, you’ll be asked some other questions about it, depending on which local authority need to deal with it. They can then work out what to do next.

Can you claim for any damage?

If your car has been damaged by hitting a pothole, you might be able to make a claim for this with the local authority or agency responsible for the roads where the pothole was. Have a look here for how you can do this.

If you ended up in an accident from either hitting or avoiding the pothole and you need to claim on your car insurance, make sure you have all the details you can, including photos, dashcam footage, and the time and place of the accident. You can claim online 24/7 by logging into your Account and choosing ‘make a claim’. If you need our emergency recovery team please call 0345 604 3570 - this is also available 24/7.

We hope you now feel more equipped to avoid those problematic potholes, and, if you are unlucky enough to hit one, you know what you should do.