Nearly 50,000 drivers filed compensation claims because of Britain’s pothole-riddled roads last year which have wrecked tyres and damaged vehicles. The payouts have amounted to around £10 million during the last two years alone.
And the RAC Foundation warned that the figures, which were obtained under Freedom of Information requests, are likely to be “the tip of the iceberg”, because some councils did not respond, while many motorists cannot be bothered with the hassle of filling in claim forms.
The 200 (out of a total of 207) local highways authorities In England, Scotland and Wales who responded to FOI requests by the motoring research charity dealt with 48,664 compensation claims in the 2013/14 financial year – roughly the equivalent of one claim being submitted every eleven minutes day and night, 365 days a year and an increase on the 2012/13 figure of 46,139 claims.
The total value of successful claims was £3.2 million and the average payout for a successful claim in 2013/14 was £286, down from £357 the year before. While the average administration cost of each claim – successful or not – was £147.
However councils also refused the majority of claims, agreeing to pay out in less than a quarter (23%) of cases.
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, commented: “These figures are likely to be the tip of the iceberg. Many drivers will be put off by the time involved in claiming against a council, and many councils do their best to deter claimants coming forward.
“But the fundamental problem lies not at the doors of our town halls but with central government. Despite occasional one-off grants related to periods of harsh weather, they are simply not giving councils enough money to keep their road networks up to scratch.
“In England, local authorities themselves estimate the maintenance backlog to be about £12 billion yet over the past five years spending on roads in real terms has dropped 22% across England and Wales.
“Worn out road surfaces do not simply cause damage to vehicles they are also potentially lethal, particularly for two-wheeled road users.”
Denna Bowman, Head Office