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The problem with potholes


This week’s media coverage included a piece about government investment in road repairs.

The pothole problem is becoming an epidemic in Britain. It has been estimated that there has been a 60% increase in the number of potholes in our roads. Now, potholes are even more widespread. For example, London has an estimated 188,000 potholes in its road network.

I can appreciate these statistics because the road where I live is tormented by potholes. As I frequently use this road, I know to avoid them or drive extra slowly and carefully if that isn’t possible. However, these potholes cause greater difficulty and danger to road users who are on an unfamiliar road. They don’t know to expect a pothole and why would they? Drivers, cyclists and pedestrians are entitled to expect that public roads and pavements are kept in a decent state of repair.

Legal options for accidents caused by potholes

Road users who are injured because of a pothole can be eligible for compensation from the local authority responsible for the road maintenance. The Highways Act 1980 imposes a duty on local authorities to maintain the public highway.

They are also under a general duty to ensure that roads are safe.

If a driver, cyclist or pedestrian can prove that a local authority allowed dangerous potholes to develop on its roads due to its failure to maintain or repair them, they are entitled to compensation for their injury and any consequential losses.

Here at Lance Mason, I represent a number of claimants who have, unfortunately, suffered serious injuries in accidents caused by potholes.

Government investment

The Chancellor has pledged that a pothole fund would be provided to councils as part of the 2014 Budget. The total amount that is being shared out between the 148 eligible councils is £168m. It was announced today that London will receive the biggest wedge at £10m. Local authorities will publish monthly updates indicating how many pot holes have been repaired. Some commentators have suggested that the planned repairs are not enough. They say that patching potholes up will not make Britain’s roads safe. To do this the roads will need fully resurfacing. It is, however, widely thought that the pothole fund will facilitate welcome improvements in Britain’s road network. It will reduce the number of dangerous potholes which will hopefully lead to a decrease in accidents.


By: Lesley Layton

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