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Pothole Impact on Drivers' Pockets as Cost From Damage Rises by 35%

Kwik Fit | Tuesday 22nd March 2022 12:30pm

  • Kwik Fit PIT Report 2022 reveals record pothole damage repair bill of £1.7bn over last year
  • Up almost half a billion pounds on pre-pandemic level
  • Almost half the nation’s drivers say road conditions are worse than twelve months ago

After widespread coverage appeared of Sir Rod Stewart tackling potholes near his Essex home, new research reveals he is far from alone in suffering from costly damage due to poor road surfaces. The annual PIT Report (Pothole Impact Tracker) for Kwik Fit, the UK’s leading automotive servicing and repair company, shows that over the last twelve months the total cost of pothole damage to British drivers has risen to a staggering £1.7 billion.

This figure is a 35% increase on the previous year (£1.2bn), a rise which could be partly explained by the higher traffic volumes in the last twelve months than in the year to March 2021 – the first year of the pandemic.1,2 However, it is notable that the latest figure is nearly half a billion pounds higher than in the year before Covid hit, despite average daily car traffic remaining below those pre-pandemic levels, and in fact is the biggest total seen since Kwik Fit began tracking the cost annually.

Source: Research for Kwik Fit

The number of British drivers experiencing pothole problems has risen, with 59% of drivers saying they have hit at least one a week over the last year, up from 46% in 2021. Some 13.3 million motorists say their car has suffered damage in the last year as a result of a pothole impact, with the average individual repair bill coming to £132.

Of the 13.3 million drivers who experienced damage after a pothole impact, the research found that 50% faced damage to their tyres. This was followed by wheel damage in 29% of cases, damaged suspension (also 29%) and steering (18%). For 12% of drivers facing with damage the impact was severe enough to cause bodywork damage, while for one in ten (10%) damages were to engine components.

Kwik Fit’s research has found that when it comes to the road surfaces in their local area, almost three times as many drivers think conditions have deteriorated in the last year as believe they have got better. 46% of drivers say the road surfaces have got worse in the last twelve months, compared to 16% who say they have improved. London is the only region of the country to buck this trend. In the capital, 30% of drivers say the road surfaces are better than one year ago, compared to 25% who say they are worse.

Although the damage caused by a pothole may be instantly apparent, such as a burst tyre or cracked alloy, in many cases the effect can be hidden. For instance, the impact can lead to gradual deflation through a slow puncture or cause a bulge or damage to the inside wall of a tyre which may not be immediately spotted but could result in a tyre failure at high speed. Similarly, if wheels are knocked slightly out of alignment it can compromise handling and cause uneven tyre wear, but it may take time for this to become obvious. Kwik Fit recommends drivers who have experienced a particularly heavy impact to keep a close eye on how their car is handling in the days following the incident.

Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, says: “The total cost of potholes to the nation’s drivers is rising due to a combination of factors – worsening road surfaces, the impact of inflation on individual repair costs and car use getting back to near pre-pandemic levels. We all know there are huge demands on public finances at the moment, but the reality is that drivers have been consistently calling for a strategic plan to effectively bring our roads up to scratch for many years. It is not sufficient to just carry out emergency patching of the worst areas – this is always going to be a case of papering over the cracks.”

If drivers have seen a pothole, Kwik Fit encourages them to report it as councils can only rectify a problem if they are aware of it. For England and Wales the Government has a central webpage which will direct drivers to the correct authority if they are unsure who is responsible, with the Scottish Government offering an equivalent service north of the border.

Drivers who have hit a pothole and are uncertain whether or not their car has suffered any damage can take it to any of Kwik Fit’s 600 plus centres across the UK where the company’s expert technicians will check it for them.

For the latest news and updates from Kwik Fit, customers can also follow the company on Twitter at @kwik_fit.

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