Potholes: How to avoid big bills from the growing gaps in the UK’s infrastructure

The deterioration of the UK’s roads is causing big repair bills and leading to downtime for some businesses. All the major players within breakdown and repair have reported sharp rises in calls and damages to vehicles as a result of potholes. We take a look at what is happening, and how you and your drivers can prevent issues caused by the growing gaps in the road.

The current situation

Adverse weather conditions, heavy traffic, and budget constraints have impacted the UK’s roads. The growing number of potholes has resulted in alarming numbers of drivers experiencing vehicle damage. Auto Windscreens, the AA, and RAC have all reported seeing an increase in calls and attending breakdowns due to potholes.

The RAC attended nearly 8,000 (7,904) breakdowns in the first quarter of 2024 due to bad road surfaces, up 53% on the last three months of 2023.

Meanwhile, research from Kwik Fit revealed the repair bill from pothole damage to vehicles hit £1.48bn last year.

Despite the Government committing £8.3bn for road maintenance from the cancellation of the northern leg of HS2, it remains to be seen whether Highways England and the local authorities will be able to catch up due to the scale of the network and increasing damage.

What damage can potholes cause?

With the quantity and size of potholes rising, it’s becoming more and more difficult for drivers to avoid them. According to the AA, the average repair cost for pothole damage is around £140, but this can be a lot more depending on the extent of the damage – determined by the size of the pothole and at what speed you hit it.

Potholes can affect several areas of a vehicle on impact ranging from windscreens, tyres, wheels, suspension, exhausts, and alignment issues as well as damage to the undercarriage, and steering system.

Some of these issues need immediate attention and can stop a driver from continuing their journey, whilst other damages will need to be booked into the workshop to be fixed. This not only creates unexpected costs, but it can also lead to downtime of the vehicle, which can be problematic if it is required for work purposes.

How to prevent pothole damage

Prevention really is better than the cure in this situation. Whilst it can be challenging to completely avoid hitting a pothole on some roads, especially if there is heavy traffic, slowing down when approaching a pothole can make a big difference and prevent causing as much damage, if any. If it is safe to do so, then try cautiously navigating the vehicle around the pothole.