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Pot calling the hole black

I would not vote for the mayor. It’s not just because he didn’t invite me to dinner, but because on my way into town from the airport there were such enormous potholes.

We’ve all been there. Driving along a perfectly good road when – wham – the car gives a lurch when hits a pothole, leaving you a bit jittery at best or with a messed up tyre if you’re unlucky.

The general feeling from an admittedly not very scientific poll conducted round the office, in the playground and the pub, is that potholes are becoming more numerous.

Not only that, but they are taking longer to be fixed and when they are, it seems the repairs don’t last very long before there’s another gaping hole, bigger than the last.

Messing around on t’internet, I found some quite scary research from Britannia Rescue. They dug deep into official council data across the UK, using the Freedom of Information Act (God forbid we should be able to just find things out easily!);

  • There is now one pothole for every mile of road in Great Britain
  • Councils have paid out a total of £2.5 million in compensation to motorists in the past financial year for pothole damage to cars
  • One in ten (9%) people have suffered car damage as a result of poor road surfaces in the past 12 months
  • UK councils have received 32,600 compensation claims in the past financial year for everything from potholes ruining wheel rims, to puncturing tyres and damaging suspension – an increase of 79% from the previous financial year
  • the average cost of repairing a pothole is around £50, meaning the amount forked out by councils in compensation could have been used to repair more than 50,000 individual problems

    What’s even scarier is that this research from Britannia refers to 2013. Do you think the situation will have got better since then? No, neither do I.

  • In the World Economic Forum’s global ‘quality of roads’ list the UK is ranked just 30th out of 144 countries, behind France, the Netherlands, Japan, Spain, Germany, the US, Denmark, Canada, Ireland and Belgium .
  • According to recent research by Which?, seven out of 10 drivers hit potholes in the UK between 2013-2015

    Britain’s pothole epidemic has resulted from years of underinvestment in our roads and was exacerbated by recent harsh winters. Now, admittedly, the last winter wasn’t a particularly cold or harsh one. Still, the state the roads round me indicate that, rain or shine, snow or sun, it’s getting worse not better.

    So, BMJ has teamed up with IKO to highlight this issue. If you spot a particularly juicy pothole take a picture – assuming it is safe to do so! – and tweet it with the hashtag #nomorepotholes and the best one will be our #potholeoftheweek. Or, email it in to BMJ and we’ll feature it in our Pothole of the Month story.

  • About Fiona Russell-Horne

    Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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