RAC Foundation reveals pothole compensation claims

29/09/2015
Highways Reporters

Drivers made a pothole compensation claim every 18 minutes during the last financial year, according to information released by the RAC Foundation.

Almost 29,000 drivers made claims against councils across Great Britain for damage caused to their vehicles by potholes in the last financial year.

Between them, the 200 (out of a total of 207) local highways authorities in England, Scotland and Wales which responded fully and in a standard format to Freedom of information (FOI) requests by the RAC Foundation dealt with 28,971 compensation claims in 2014/15.

This is roughly one claim every 18 minutes day and night, 365 days a year.

This compares with the previous financial year when drivers made 48,945 claims; one every 11 minutes.

Councils refused the bulk of claims, agreeing to pay out in just 25% of cases (down from 26% in 2013/14). However this average masks huge differences between councils. While Bury paid out in 88% of cases and Plymouth 86%, 21 councils paid out nothing at all.

However the average settlement amount for a successful claim was up from £286 to £294.

The figures do not take into account either the size of the authority or the traffic volumes on their roads and hence there is no assessment of the rate of claims per mile of road under management or rate of claims per vehicle mile.

The total value of successful claims was £2 million.

You can see a breakdown of council pothole compensation claims here.

 

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “One reading of these figures could be that local roads are in better condition than they were. But that does not square with councils’ own assessment that the road maintenance backlog is actually growing, not falling.

“It could instead be that many drivers are put off by the time involved in claiming against a council while councils themselves do their best to deter claimants coming forward. But 28,971 claims in one year is still a huge number – three an hour, every day of the year.

“Ahead of the general election an RAC Foundation poll found that the condition of roads and pavements was regarded as the number one transport issue amongst voters, just as it was back in 2010. Better roads don’t just benefit car drivers. While potholes are an inconvenience for those on four wheels, they can be a matter of life or death for those on two.

“By his own calculations the Chancellor has put the cost of tackling the road maintenance backlog at £8.6 billion. This is a number that needs to be at the front of his mind when he concludes his spending review in November.”
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