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Potholes

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I dont know about you but the snow and ice we had around Christmas, followed by an early January of heavy rain, have left the roads in my area in a pretty poor state of repair. The surface is breaking up in many places, meaning that there is a lot of loose material which doesnt give a lot of grip, and also those pieces of tarmac and gravel, washed down from the side of the road, can get get thrown up by the vehicle in front resulting in chipped paintwork at the best and a crack in the windscreen in youre really unlucky.

But worst of all are the potholes. There are some seriously nasty ones that have opened up, quite a few inches deep in places, and these can be a real danger. Not only can they cause damage to tyres, wheels and suspension but they can be the cause of accidents as motorists swerve to avoid them; and theyre even more hazardous for the poor cyclist as well.

Because of the recent abysmal weather, predictions are that the number of potholes around this winter is going to be about 40 per cent up on last year and is likely to exceed two million in total. Thats an awful lot of holes to have to avoid.

There are a number of websites devoted to the reporting of dangerous potholes and many local councils encourage motorists to log them on their own sites. Once a council has been informed of the location of a dangerous pothole, it is duty-bound to do something about it. However, with recent cuts in budgets, many councils are struggling to cope with the backlog of road maintenance programmes. But what are your rights if you do sustain damage to your car after hitting a pothole?

If you encounter a bad pothole, regardless of whether your car is damaged, note its location and inform the local authority. If your car does sustains damage, note where and when it happened and, if possible, photograph the offending gap in the tarmac and measure how wide and deep it is. Keep all the paperwork associated with the insurance claim and the repair and write to the relevant local authority stating exactly what happened and draw a map showing where the pothole is. Your claim will initially be rejected under section 38 of the Highways Act where the council will claim that they have taken reasonable measure to ensure that the road has been maintained adequately, but ignore that.

The next step is to submit a request under the Freedom of Information Act to find out when such inspections or repairs were made in order to challenge the council and push forward your claim. Again, details of how to do this, along with plenty of advice, is out there on the web. Just type pothole into a search engine.

I know it all sounds a bit laborious, and it is, but there is plenty of advice out there on the web about how to do this, and the more people who do complain and register legitimate claims, the more councils will have to take notice and get something done.