They are the bane of any driver’s life. Potholes in the road not only damage vehicle tyres and suspension, they can also be highly dangerous for motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians. Those on two wheels could have a nasty accident, especially if a pothole is large, and unwary pedestrians could slip or trip, with the potential for broken bones after a fall.
The increase in vehicle usage
To a large extent, roads are victims of the enormous success of the car. From the early days in the late 19th century when the first car was invented, through the first mass-produced car in the Ford Model T, to today’s proliferation of manufacturers and profusion of models, roads are under immense pressure and many, especially back roads, are barely fit for purpose.
It’s not just cars that cause pothole problems. Heavy lorries are major culprits and the increase in the transportation and delivery of goods ordered via the internet means traffic is only likely to increase.
Local authorities are responsible for the upkeep of roads in their area, including repairing potholes, but shrinking budgets often means repairs are not given the priority they deserve.
Potholes are a menace to road users as they are a major factor in causing suspension and axle failure, costing British motorists, year on year, an estimated £2.8billion.
Potholes and poor roads cost local authorities over £30million a year in compensation claims, with underfunding meaning roads are not repaired as frequently as they should be leading to a huge backlog of roads that need to be fixed – according to Local Government Association figures it would take 14 years to clear the backlog.
Under the Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992, an employer must ensure the working environment is safe both for employees and visitors. So, a car park that has unrepaired potholes in it could pose a significant risk to those parking at an office or factory, or those using a council car park when going shopping.
Compensation claims for injury and damage can be extremely costly, so employers need to be acutely aware of the potential risks of not dealing with the issue of potholes on their premises.
For any employer, the safety of employees and the public is essential. Health and safety regulations not only protect people, but they can also protect employers.
It’s not difficult to fill potholes or to warn people they are there before a repair is made. On French roads, for example, one might see signs stating ‘trous en formation’, which means potholes are forming.
The prevention of accidents can be improved by clear signage warning road users who are using parking areas. The best way to avoid a compensation claim is to repair potholes.
Keeping people safe
Potholes cause immense damage to vehicles and to people who slip or trip in them. Regular maintenance and repair can be more cost-effective than having to pay out when successful compensation claims are made.