Almost one million potholes reported each year, finds Insurance Emporium

Almost one million potholes each year have been reported to local authorities since 2015, research by The Insurance Emporium has found.

The company submitted Freedom of Information requests to 205 local authorities, and found the highest number in a year was 1,088,965 in 2016.

The Insurance Emporium said City of Edinburgh Council was UK’s overall pothole capital, with 73 potholes per km of road being reported on average from January 2015 to April 2018.

Several local authorities in Yorkshire also had high pothole numbers on their roads, with Kirklees Council, Sheffield City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council in the UK’s top 10 worst locations for potholes.

The company said that by contrast, London and Greater London generally had impressively low pothole numbers.

UK pothole expert Professor Nicholas Thom, of Nottingham University, said: “Potholes are not an inevitable fact of life.

“They are caused by water that gets into the road surface and is then squeezed by the action of high tyre pressures, made worse by freezing and thawing.

“Very impermeable surfaces, such as hot rolled asphalt, are extremely pothole resistant but they are more expensive and less nice to drive on.

“More permeable surfaces, as permitted by Highways England and most local authorities, are cheaper and nicer to drive on – until they fall apart and form potholes.

“So the number of potholes per kilometre on a given authority’s roads depends not only on the repair budget, repair strategy, and the climate -frosts are bad news- but also on a historical policy choice, namely what surfacing materials to use.

“It is a choice that badly needs to be reviewed.”

The research also looked at the number of injury and damage claims made by cyclists involving potholes.

During 2017-18, some 335 pothole damage and injury claims were filed.

Personal and dental injuries to cyclists accounted for 16% of these, and damage to the bike 26%. Just 9% of claims were successful.

Cheshire East Council had the highest overall number of claims made against it for pothole-related damage and injury – 46 since 2015.

Hampshire County Council was next highest at 37. Manchester City Council and Tower Hamlets Council came third highest with 30 claims each.


Local authorities with highest number of potholes 2015-2018

Position Local Authority (LA) Number of Potholes Road Length managed by LA km £ Spend per Capita by LA Potholes per km Potholes ÷ rd length
             Devon 150,395   6.73 54  
              City of Edinburgh 112,619   Not available 73.31  
  Northamptonshire 108,816   Not available        23.47  
  East Riding of Yorkshire UA 104,001   2.17 91  
  Oxfordshire 93,112   12 6  
  Fife 84,468   3.80 10  
  Dumfries and Galloway 83,251   0.17       17.64  
  Kirklees 83,097   0.54 12  
  Sheffield 78,772   Not available 88  
  Buckinghamshire 72,552   Not available 97  
  Essex 66,573   Not available         8.07  
  Somerset 65,526   Not available 94  
  Birmingham 58,652   0.15        8.60  
  Dundee City 41,976   12.77 61  

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