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New UK Government Pothole Penalties

New changes to the law will hopefully help prevent needless potholes from being caused nationwide. The UK government recently announced it will be bringing in new measures to penalise utility companies that are responsible for creating potholes on our streets during and after roadworks are carried out.

The aim of these measures is to save drivers from having to pay motor trade professionals for needless mechanical repairs to suspension, wheels and tyres caused after hitting potholes, a frustrating expense, especially with the cost of living continuing to rise.

Grant Shapps, UK Transport Secretary said: “The plague of potholes is the menace of our roads. That’s why I’m ensuring companies who create them and leave roads in a poor state can be held to account more easily – protecting drivers from unfair repair costs.

We’ve already invested billions of pounds into roads maintenance, helping local authorities keep their highways well maintained and I’ll continue working to make sure all road-users around the country can enjoy the safe, world-class infrastructure they deserve.”

One leading roadside patrol company from the motor trade industry attended more than 10,000 breakdowns in 2021 due to potholes, this is the highest average on our roads since 2018, over 25 breakdowns each day, that is quite a few private and motor trade insurance claims from motorists.

The RAC carries out a Pothole Index by analysing breakdowns related to potholes together with the seasonal weather conditions, it not only provides an insight to the condition of our roads, but also highlights the pothole index has risen to 1.63 from 1.48 since September 2021.

RAC Head of Roads Policy, Nicholas Lyes, commented following the recent announcement: “While roadworks are frustrating at the best of times, it’s even worse when utility companies leave roads in a sub-standard state when the temporary traffic lights are finally removed.

Poorly carried out reinstatement work very often leads to road surfaces breaking down, unnecessarily causing potholes much to the annoyance of drivers. Introducing a performance-based inspections scheme should force utilities companies to raise their game and should ultimately lead to smoother and safer journeys for all road users.”

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Worryingly, this does means private and motor trade professionals are more likely to breakdown after driving over a pothole today than they were when the data analysis started back in 2006, and with vehicle technology getting more and more innovative, it can only mean the condition of our roads are becoming increasingly treacherous because of potholes.

Performance based inspections will soon be introduced to tackle this problem, with financial penalties being issued to the utility companies whose work continues to fail meeting the standards set out. Following further investigation, these companies will be inspected by local authorities to ensure their work meets the criteria, and roads are left in a good condition.

At present, most companies that carry out roadworks throughout the UK pass their local authority inspections, however, a worrying trend has revealed that on average, 9% of the work inspections carried out on utility companies are being failed, which is 9% to high. Even more concerning, the worst performing company failed over 60% of inspections carried out on their work.

New plans will ensure that companies are required to provide local authorities and the Department for Transport’s Street Manager Service with up-to-date accurate data on live road works.