Fleet News

Fleets should sue over pothole damage

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Fleets plagued by damage to their vehicles’ axle, suspension and steering due to poorly maintained roads have been advised to claim costs back from local authorities.

According to research carried out by Warranty Direct, which involved nearly 500,000 vehicles, on average 30.5% of cars will suffer from damage as a result of the UK’s pothole-riddled roads.

The research found that repairs to pothole damage is now costing more than £2.8 billion a year, with the average cost of repair to suspension hitting £285.39 in 2006.

A lack of spending on maintenance is to blame, said Duncan McClure Fisher, of Warranty Direct.

“Continuous driving over cracked or uneven road surfaces, or one sudden jolt from a pothole, can cause substantial damage to shock absorbers, springs, upper and lower arms and stabiliser bars,” he said.

“Even though the UK has just 250,000 miles of road compared to America’s four million, we are still a poor relation when it comes to road maintenance budget – and we’re paying for it in repair bills.”

Fleet managers are reminded that the cost of repairs to damage caused by potholes can be claimed back from the local authority where the incident took place.

And an increasing number of motorists are collecting evidence – such a photographic and independent witness statements – and suing local councils.

According to the BBC, a total of £10 million has been claimed in compensation for injuries and damage allegedly caused by potholed roads in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

Figures obtained by the BBC using the Freedom of Information Act show that over the past two years, 20 councils have paid out £1 million damages.

However, the Highways Agency, which is responsible for motorways and A roads – the busiest roads in the country – said that road maintenance levels are at an all-time high.

“Data from machine-based surveys of the surface of these roads show them to be in very good condition,” said an agency spokeswoman.

The Department for Transport (DfT), which funds local authorities to ensure all other roads are pothole-free, added that extra funding means the condition of the nation’s roads is improving.

“Since 2002, the Government has more than doubled funding to local authorities for investing in their roads,” explained a DfT spokesman.

“We recently announced funding for three years, which will mean £809 million in 2010/11 – up from £265 million in 2000/01. This is in addition to funding also provided for routine maintenance.”

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