Potholes are a common sight on roads in the UK, and they can pose serious risks and dangers to drivers. Driving over pothole can cause damage to your vehicle, such as flat tyres, bent rims, misaligned wheels, and even suspension damage. In addition, potholes can also result in accidents, especially if you swerve suddenly to avoid them or lose control of your vehicle when driving over them.
The danger from potholes is such that depending on how deep the pothole is, you may be able to claim compensation from a local council for damage caused to your car or a personal injury.
In this article, we will discuss how to swerve the risks and dangers of driving over potholes.
How To Avoid Pothole Damage and Injuries
Be alert and observant
One of the most effective ways to swerve the risks and dangers of driving over potholes is to be alert and observant while driving. Pay attention to the road ahead and watch out for potholes. Look for signs of potholes, such as cracks in the road surface, uneven pavement, or puddles that may indicate the presence of potholes.
If you spot a pothole ahead, slow down your vehicle to reduce the impact when you drive over it. Avoid driving at high speeds over potholes, as this can cause more damage to your vehicle and increase the risk of losing control.
Maintain a safe following distance
Keep a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of you to give yourself enough time to react and avoid potholes. If the vehicle in front of you hits a pothole, it may cause them to swerve or brake suddenly, and having a safe following distance can give you enough time to react accordingly.
Avoid sudden swerving
Swerving suddenly to avoid a pothole can be dangerous, as it can cause you to lose control of your vehicle or collide with other objects on the road. Instead of swerving abruptly, try to slow down and pass over the pothole as smoothly as possible, keeping a firm grip on the steering wheel.
Use both hands on the steering wheel
Make sure to keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times, especially when driving over potholes. This will help you maintain control of your vehicle and reduce the risk of losing control or veering off the road.
Check your tyres and suspension regularly
Regularly inspect your tyres and suspension for any signs of damage or wear and tear. Potholes can cause tyre punctures, sidewall bulges, and other damage that may not be immediately apparent. If you notice any issues, get them addressed promptly to avoid further damage or accidents.
If you come across a pothole on the road, report it to the local authorities. Reporting potholes can help them identify and fix the issue, reducing the risk for other drivers. Many local councils have online portals or phone numbers where you can report potholes.
Stay within the legal speed limit
Adhering to the legal speed limit is crucial for road safety, including avoiding potholes. Driving at excessive speeds can make it harder to spot potholes and react in time to avoid them.
Consider using alternative routes
If you are aware of roads with a history of potholes or if you notice a particular road has numerous potholes, consider using an alternative route, if possible. This may require a bit of detour, but it can help you avoid potential risks and damages caused by potholes.
What To Do If You Do Hit a Pothole
If you do hit a pothole, here’s what needs to happen next:
1. Assess your vehicle for any signs of damage
This can include:
- Tyre damage: Potholes can cause punctures, cuts, or sidewall bulges. This can then result in flat or weakened tyres that may need to be replaced.
- Rim/wheel damage: The impact of hitting a pothole can bend or crack the rims/wheels of a vehicle. This can lead to misaligned wheels, which can affect the vehicle’s handling and cause uneven tyre wear.
- Suspension damage: Potholes can cause damage to the suspension system of a vehicle, including the shocks, struts, and springs. This can result in a rough ride, decreased stability, and reduced control of the vehicle.
- Alignment issues: The impact of hitting a pothole can knock the wheels out of alignment, causing the vehicle to pull to one side, causing uneven tyre wear, and reduced fuel efficiency.
- Exhaust system damage: Potholes can also cause damage to the exhaust system of a vehicle, including the muffler, pipes, and catalytic converter. This can result in leaks, noise, and reduced engine performance.
- Damage to undercarriage components: The underside of a vehicle, including the oil pan, transmission, and other components, can be vulnerable to damage from hitting potholes. This can result in oil leaks, transmission damage, and other costly repairs.
- Electrical system damage: The jarring impact of hitting a pothole can also cause damage to the electrical system of a vehicle, including wiring, sensors, and lights. This can result in malfunctioning electrical components and systems.
- Body damage: In severe cases, hitting a pothole can cause damage to the body of a vehicle, including dents, scratches, and broken parts. This can affect the aesthetics and resale value of the vehicle.
It’s important to note that the extent of damage can vary depending on the size, depth, and speed of impact when hitting a pothole. It’s crucial to have a professional inspection of the vehicle if you suspect any damage after hitting a pothole to ensure prompt repairs and prevent further issues down the road.
2. Report potholes to the local authorities.
Many local councils have online portals or phone numbers where you can report potholes. By reporting potholes, you help not only yourself but also other drivers who may encounter the same pothole in the future.
3. Assess your car for damage and reporting
If you sustain an injury or your car is damaged from hitting a pothole on a road maintained by a local authority in the UK, you may be eligible to make a claim for compensation. In addition to assessing your car for damage and reporting the pothole to local authorities, you should:
- Collect evidence: Take photos of the pothole, the location, and the damage to your vehicle as soon as possible after the incident. Note the exact location, date, and time of the incident, as well as any other relevant details such as the size and depth of the pothole.
- Get a repair estimate: Take your vehicle to a reputable repair shop for an assessment of the damage and an estimate for the cost of repairs. Make sure to keep copies of the repair estimate, invoices, and any other relevant documents.
- Contact the local authority: Contact the local authority responsible for the road where the pothole is located and inform them of the damage to your vehicle. Provide them with the evidence you have collected, including photos, location details, and repair estimate.
- Follow the local authority’s claim process: Each local authority may have its own claim process for pothole damage. Follow their instructions and provide all the necessary information, including the evidence you have collected, to support your claim.
- Be prepared for a response: The local authority may investigate your claim and may accept or deny it. If your claim is denied, they may provide reasons for the decision. Be prepared to provide additional evidence or appeal the decision if necessary.
- Consider legal assistance: If you encounter difficulties in the claim process or if the damages are significant, you may consider seeking legal assistance from a qualified solicitor who specialises in these types of cases.
It’s important to note that not all pothole damage claims are successful, as local authorities may have certain defenses, such as proving that they were not aware of the pothole or that they took reasonable steps to repair it in a timely manner. However, it’s worth pursuing a claim if you believe that the local authority was negligent in maintaining the road and that their failure to repair the pothole caused damage to your vehicle.