What To Do When Our Roads Go To Pot

There can be few motorists who haven’t come across a pothole at some point. For most of us, they are fortunately quite rare. And if we are in a car when we hit one, we normally get away with a bit of a bump and that is it.

However, it is a different story for motorcyclists and those on bicycles who have to negotiate these potentially treacherous hazards.

According to a recent report, we are set for a growth in the number of potholes as a result of a back-log and under funding.

Apparently more than 90 per cent of local authorities in England and Wales believe a short fall in funding will have a negative effect on the safety of road users. Delayed buses, damaged cars on worst still, upended two wheelers are the unintended consequences. It is now expected that visual defects such as cracking and deterioration will be addressed by a succession of “patch and mend” road works which will do little for congestion or road safety.

But what can we, as individual motorists, do about potholes?

If you do hit one accidentally, make a point of checking not just the outer tyre wall but the inner tyre wall, which may have been damaged as a result.

Seeing a pothole ahead, you should use your hazard awareness and knowledge of the damaged road surface to position yourself in such a way that you can avoid hitting it. But only do so if you have good visibility behind and ahead; there is nothing to be gained by driving too close to an on- coming vehicle just to avoid a pothole. Or suddenly pulling out to avoid a hole, only to discover that there is a motorcyclist trying to get past you when you do so.

Be particularly conscious of cyclists trying to get past a pothole and give them a suitably wide berth. They are entitled to a wobble and would appreciate not having a motorist attempting to overtake just as they negotiate a hole in the road.

Wet weather makes potholes even more dangerous, because they are sometimes concealed by what looks like normal surface water. If you know that a local road has a pothole developing, even if it is not visible, try to use the centre of the carriageway until you are past it if it is safe to do so. Finally, always make a point of reporting a pothole to the local authority as an early repair could prevent a future accident.

9 April 2006 Staff

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