Motorists have been warned that the risk to life because of potholes is now severe, as new figures reveal UK roads are in the worst condition in years.
Road safety experts at Road Angel are urging councils to fork out and repair potholes or they say road users will lose their lives.
Local authorities paid out over £32 million in compensation for 5,596 personal injury claims due to potholes between 2017 and 2021, according to a freedom of information request.
Pothole-related breakdowns hit a five-year high in July this year, with 50,079 callouts to vehicles stranded with faults caused by potholes, an increase of nearly one-fifth from 41,790 in July 2022.
With fewer potholes being repaired in the last financial year than any other in the past decade, there is concern that thousands more will be injured, and killed, as a direct result of badly kept roads.
A wet summer has meant that UK roads are in a worse condition than expected as water causes greater damage and repairs are harder to carry out.
If left, potholes grow in size as traffic wears away the edges leaving greater numbers of larger holes that will cause serious damage if driven through.
Motoring organisations are reporting that these larger potholes fill up with water in the wet so are harder for motorists to spot.
Drivers run the risk of losing control of their car when they drive over potholes, especially if they don’t spot them and are moving at speed.
Potholes can cause extensive damage to a car’s tyres which can affect steering alignment, and can also cause wheels to burst, pop or deflate while driving which could send the vehicle out of control.
They can also cause suspension to become misaligned leading to tyres being at the wrong angle which can also lead to a loss of control.
Over 29,000 people were killed or seriously injured on UK roads last year and 11% of crashes were caused by a loss of control.
Gary Digva, founder of Road Angel, is now pleading with local authorities to assess the risk to life if the pothole problem in the UK is not repaired.
He said: “It is shocking to see that the pothole plague in the UK is not being taken seriously by local councils given how many people are injured because of them.
“With fewer potholes being repaired than in the last decade, it is only a matter of time before we start seeing an increase in accidents, injuries and fatalities unless something changes.
“Potholes are incredibly dangerous for motorists as they can cause them to lose control, especially if they cause damage to the tyres of suspension, or swerve out of the way to prevent damage.
“Almost 30,000 people were killed or seriously injured on UK roads last year, and we fear these numbers could increase with the current state of the roads.
“Potholes not only pose a threat to motorists, but they are also dangerous for cyclists because the uneven surfaces can cause the bike to lose control, leading to accidents and serious injuries.
“Pedestrians could also get caught in the crossfire of out-of-control vehicles, putting them at serious risk of harm if walking along a busy road.
“To make matters worse, we have had an unusually wet summer this year which makes potholes harder for road users to see, meaning more people are at risk of hitting potholes and losing control.
“The best advice to motorists while the roads are in this substandard condition is to drive with caution at all times and reduce speeds when approaching a pothole.
“Motorists concerned for their safety after hitting a pothole should ensure they go to a qualified mechanic to check the vehicle for any damage.
“It is also worth noting that to make a claim in the event of injury or car damage from a pothole, evidence must be collected to show it was caused by the council’s negligence.
“This is a tough process, but can be done using witness statements, photo or video evidence and medical records, so while the roads are neglected by the councils it may be worth investing in a dashcam to capture pothole proof.”