The Great British Pothole Problem
What do you get if you mix together a recession and a few years’ of cold, wet winters? The answer is potholes, and they are becoming an increasing cause of personal injury and sometimes even death on British roads.
So why are potholes becoming such a growing issue? What hazards do they cause to road users, and what can you do if you suffer a personal injury caused by a pothole and wish to make a claim?
Increasing on Britain’s roads
Potholes are caused by a combination of sun, cold, rain and vehicles. The constant stress of traffic and sun beating down on a road, over time causes the asphalt to crack, which in turn allows snow and rainwater to enter into the cracks and mix with the gravel and dirt underneath. The water then freezes, causing the cracks to expand, pushing out some of the gravel and dirt from under the asphalt. When the ice melts this leaves a hole, which grows bigger as traffic continuously drives over the rupture, fatiguing and straining the affected area even further.
However, Britain has just experienced a mild winter hasn’t it? Yes, we may have experienced moderate temperatures, but the winter of 2013/14 has been officially confirmed as the wettest on record. Unfortunately, even when the climate is relatively warm, excessive rainfall and flooding can eat away at the roads, causing potholes and other types of damage. Couple this with cuts to council budgets allocated to road repairs and it is clear why personal injuries caused by potholes are on the increase.
Thousands of people suffer vehicle damage caused by potholes every year. However, potholes also contribute many instances of injury and even death on our roads, with cyclists and motorcyclists being particularly vulnerable. According to cycling charity groups, more than 1000 cyclists are injured every year due to unrepaired potholes.
Just a few weeks ago, a coroner investigating the death of a cyclist in North Yorkshire in 2011 ruled that in his mind, “there was no doubt whatsoever the condition of the road on that occasion was the cause of the accident”. The cyclist had been taking part in a fundraising event when his bike hit a deep pothole and he was thrown into the path of an oncoming car and killed instantly.
If you are injured and you believe your injury was caused by pothole in the road, it is important to take the following steps. This will help you make a personal injury claim against the council responsible for the maintenance of the road where the accident occurred:
• Take a photograph of the road and the pothole itself. Try to show a sense of scale in the photograph by placing a ruler or tape measure inside the pothole to illustrate its depth.
• Measure the pothole’s dimensions, its position (i.e. is it close to the kerb) and note any other defects in the road.
• Take photographs of your injuries and any damage to your vehicle or bike.
• Report the incident to your local council.
Local authorities are aware of the dangers of potholes and most make every attempt to fix them as soon as they are discovered or reported. However, always take special care when you encounter one on the road, especially if you are riding a motorbike or a bicycle. It is also important to report the pothole to your local authority to prevent others from sustaining nasty injuries if they fail to see the hazard.