'Invisible' pothole threat to drivers

* Drivers warned of 'invisible' danger * Freezing conditions making it worse * How to make a claim...

'Invisible' pothole threat to drivers

Drivers have been warned to be on guard against 'invisible' potholes, by campaign website Potholes.co.uk.

The campaign site, which was set up by insurer Warranty Direct, is warning motorists to look out for water-filled potholes that are virtually invisible.

Dramatic increase
A dramatic increase in the 'invisible' potholes has been brought about by the recent wintry weather over the Christmas break. Longer hours of darkness have also compounded the problem for drivers.

Duncan McLure Fisher of Warranty Direct, said: 'The icy conditions over Christmas and the New Year have created new potholes across the country and motorists need to watch out. Treacherous ice and snow may be at the forefront of drivers' minds as the main hazard, but potholes are another danger they need to be aware of.'

Potholes costing drivers 1 million a day
Experts say there has been a 65% increase in potholes and other defects on English roads during the past decade, with an estimated 1.6 billion shortfall in funding for repairs.

It has been revealed that during 2010, the UK's 30 million motorists will pay an estimated 1 million a day in pothole-related damage to their cars with the average repair bill at 240.

More potholes on the way
With the recent wintry conditions, the problem of potholes is likely to get much worse. With record levels of rainfall and sub-zero temperatures affecting the country, the freeze and thaw effect results in rainwater cracking the road surface and creating more potholes.

Pothole facts
• Potholes are a leading factor in the cause of axle and suspension failure. Such mechanical problems cost British motorists an estimated 2.8 billion every year.
• Local authorities pay out more than 50 million in compensation each year to motorists whose cars have been damaged by poor road surfaces .
• Road maintenance in England and Wales is underfunded by around 50%, or 1 billion every year.
• At current levels, roads in England are resurfaced just once every 65 years, while the frequency is once in every 81 years in Wales.
• If all authorities were given the budgets required to fix their roads, it would take English authorities 11 years to remove the current backlog, and Welsh authorities 16 years.

Claiming compensation
If your car has been damaged by poor-quality roads, here's what you need to do to claim compensation.

• Take a picture of the pothole, including something which shows the size of the damage to the carriageway.
• Take pictures of the surrounding area to show that there's no warning of the damaged road (such as warning signs, cones or bollards), and take pictures of the damage to your car.
• Get a garage to prepare a quote for the repair work and, hopefully, corroborate your claim that the damage was caused by a pothole.
• Report the road and car damage to your local authority's highways department, and submit a claim for compensation covering the cost of repairs.
• Ask the highways department if the carriageway damage has been reported before and, if so, when. Ask why it has not been repaired.