If you’ve lived in St Albans long enough, you come to know a thing or two about potholes. It is no secret that the Hertfordshire city seems to have had more than its fair share of the things. Whether you drive or cycle, you’ll probably either have fallen victim to one of these vehicular menaces at some point, or you will know someone who has. I am sure potholes are a problem in other parts of the country too, of course, to one degree or another. But local residents do often talk as if we have it particularly bad here and I always wondered if this is actually true. Therefore I was very interested to read research carried out by LeaseCar on this topic; it turns out Hertfordshire is third in the UK for the number of compensation claims for pothole damage. So I guess the statistics do somewhat back up this perception!
The history of potholes in St Albans, Herts is long and well documented; a decade or so of horror stories, many that have made national papers and radio. There was a particularly nasty hole on a road outside of town that led to vehicles being written off (and many more damaged) in 2014. Our MP of the time a few years back pleaded to Parliament to get this problem sorted both locally and nationally. There have been various petitions too. Another incident saw the president of the AA have his vehicle disabled. And there was even a pothole that became a sink hole on one street in 2015. Of course, there are many more examples.
The fact is potholes are not just a minor thing for people to moan about; these mini craters can lead to major catastrophes at times. Hitting one at the wrong angle or speed in a car can lead to significant damage to the vehicle, loss of control or even both simultaneously. This ignores how scary it can be for the passengers, children especially, and more so if anyone in the car has sensory triggers. Furthermore, driving anxiety can be a factor too, as such an incident can either cause it or trigger existing anxieties more. And on a bike it can be even more perilous to the rider.
Going back to the pothole survey by LeaseCar, Surrey clearly has it particularly bad; they are top of the list with approximately 3.5k claims and the council paid out a whopping £323,222 in 2018-2019. In contrast, London boroughs have very few claims and payouts; suggesting our capital’s roads are significantly better than many other parts of the UK.
I noticed that the number of compensation claims did not necessarily tally up with how much each council paid out in compensation though. For example, Hertfordshire is third for the actual number of compensation claims, as I mentioned, yet it is further down at sixth place on the list for the amount each council paid out. I guess this could be due to a number of factors; the size and severity of the potholes themselves, perhaps the speed and type of roads they are on, the exact nature and extent of damage caused, types of cars/ vehicles affected, and I wonder if possibly some councils turning down more claims too maybe.
I am particularly curious about Bury Metropolitan Borough; it did not feature on the top 10 places that has most compensation claims, with a fairly modest 621 claims. However, it paid out a staggering £217,992.15 in compensation; the second highest amount. I would love to know the story there! (Although it sounds somewhat worrying, I admit!)
What strikes me is that with all these compensation payouts across the UK, surely that money would be better spent on actually fixing the roads! Of course it is not that simple in reality, I realise this!
Do you have a pothole story to tell? Share it in comments or on social media along with the hashtag #PotholePandemic
*This is a collaborative post