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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update – 30/01/2021News Update: Unicom's offices closed on Saturdays Get a quote

Record Rise in Pothole Related Breakdowns

Despite recent lockdown restrictions and the government advice to minimise travel, between January to March 2021, one vehicle breakdown company assisted over 50 vehicles a day which all required assistance after driving over a pothole.

Road defects that cause damage to vehicles are not only a safety hazard to all drivers, bikers, and cyclists, but they are also becoming an increasing problem due to the recent weather conditions.

Although it is up to highways authorities to fix road defects, we can all play our part maintaining the roads in our local area by reporting any potholes on this website. However, if the pothole is located on a motorway or major A-road you need to contact Highways England on 0300 123 5000, or email:

These recently reported figures represent a huge increase in the number of pothole related breakdowns during the same period of 2020. Mechanics in the motor trade industry would have seen a much higher demand than last year for vehicle repairs to damaged shock absorbers, suspension springs and distorted wheels due to this growing issue.

It will have also had an impact on the number of enquiries received by insurance companies, with many drivers who have fully comprehensive cover trying to claim for the damage against their motor insurance policy.

Head of roads policy at the RAC said: “These figures highlight what is a genuinely ‘uncomfortable truth’ for both road users as well as local and national governments, that in many cases, the condition of many roads is now in a desperate state. Many drivers are finding themselves having to use roads that in places better resemble the surface of the Moon and thousands are suffering from unnecessary and no doubt, costly breakdowns caused by potholes.”

“In some ways, the quieter roads brought about by national lockdowns could have been an ideal time for councils to start to fix problem road surfaces ready for the arrival of more traffic as restrictions are eased. Pots of funding announced annually may help fill some potholes, but they do not cure the problem over the long-term by dealing with underlying major surface defects. “

“Nor do they allow local authorities to plan routine maintenance. Potholes are a sign of broken roads, but they are also a sign of the broken nature of how the roads are looked after and paid for. The UK Government and local authorities must break the cycle and commit to doing something differently, if they don’t, all road users will continue to suffer unnecessarily.”

How pothole (RAC figures) breakdowns between January and March compared to previous years:

Q1 2021 breakdowns – 4694

Q1 2020 breakdowns – 3426 (up 37%)

Q1 2019 breakdowns – 3276 (up 43%)

Had road traffic volumes been at normal pre-lockdown levels, the figures of damaged vehicles reported would have probably been much higher. There is now a huge task facing local and national governments to bring our roads up to a safe standard and reasonable level.

With motor trade showrooms now back open for business, the last thing owners need is unnecessary damage caused to their new vehicles by potholes. Motor trade dealers will be reassured that all the vehicles being test driven by customers are covered by their motor trade insurance policies.

If your vehicle is damaged due to a pothole incident you may be able to claim compensation, especially if the pothole in question has already been reported as a hazard. Councils have a statutory defence in that they cannot be held liable for a defect they are not aware of, either because it has not been reported, or identified by them and marked for maintenance.

To make a claim you must contact the right authority and tell them about the accident, they will normally send out a damage report form for you to complete as well as the following:

  • Estimates or invoices for repairs to the vehicle.
  • Vehicle MOT certificate.
  • Photos of the Vehicle damage.

Please be aware that trespassing on a motorway is a criminal offence, and do not take any risks trying to photograph a road where your vehicle was damaged.