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25 Nov 2011

Avoiding potholes has become part of everyday life – just another thing to look out for on your way to work, along with cyclists and stray children. In fact I’d go as far as to say that swerving around potholes is an acquired skill, which has been honed over the past year as the number of potholes on our roads has multiplied. The size of the pothole determines the level of skill required. For a small hole, it’s about aiming your vehicle so the wheels straddle the crater. Hmmm, why do I feel like I’m writing a Jackie Collins novel? A larger hole is more demanding, requiring the driver to deftly swerve the vehicle without crossing into the oncoming lane of traffic, or if the hole is a real monster and cannot be avoided, approaching it with the right level of speed that avoids damaging your vehicle. This pothole business is tricky stuff!

So, we were not surprised this morning when the AA released the results of a study which found that the number of potholes on UK roads has increased and concluded that the UK is facing a pothole epidemic before the winter has even really begun. Its army of 1,000 ‘streetwatchers’ found an average of 12.9 potholes per neighborhood last year which has risen to 14.9 this year suggesting that local authorities have been overwhelmed by the problem.

Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland were among the areas worst affected by potholes, with an average of 19 in each neighborhood for the North East and Yorkshire and a whopping 20.1 in Scotland.

“The AA Streetwatch volunteers have once again shown that the UK has a pothole plague which has not gone away despite extra repairs this year,” said Edmund King, the AA’s president. “Highways authorities need to get to grips with the pothole problem, as compensation claims will soar when cold weather strikes and roads start breaking up again placing greater burdens on already strained budgets.”

The AA study coincides with an inquest into the death of 67-year-old Margaret Nicholl who was killed when she was thrown from her bike after hitting a deep pothole. What will it take for the Government to address this serious problem? Motorists are facing increasing repair bills as their suspension becomes damaged from bouncing in and out of potholes and for cyclists and motorcyclists, hitting a pothole can mean life or death. Let’s get this sorted out before another tragedy occurs.
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