What’s underneath that puddle at the side of the road?

As the roads deteriorate further and further during the winter months, standing water can hide all sorts of nasties — anything from oil to branches, diesel, rocks, bits of metal and a few others besides. However, the most likely one is yet another pothole.

In the United Kingdom, the government recently announced a £2.5 billion drive to repair 50 million potholes over the next five years.

“The Treasury said action is needed to improve infrastructure and deal with a situation where 90% of insurance claims are related to pothole damage.” Metro Newspaper

Some potholes are little more than a small hole, an inch deep, which will probably be taken care of by your car tyres and suspension and just make a bit of a bang. However, some are a lot worse with everything from collapsed or broken drain covers sticking up to potholes six inches deep and a foot across.


A320 Woking to Ottershaw closure: Could we learn from amazing Japanese  efficiency in fixing holes in the road? - Surrey Live


In case you were wondering, this is a photo from the A320, near McLaren’s roundabout in Woking, Surrey!

The first thing to watch out for is that the standing water will likely pull your steering deeper into the pothole or even into the kerb. Also, your tyre may “aquaplane” and lose all grip with the road.

Most likely, the worst that will happen is that there will be a loud bang and you will find yourself needing a new tyre and/or wheel, but it can also wreck your steering and suspension.

In addition, you may be stuck at the side of the road for a few hours waiting for assistance and missing that all-important business appointment, family get together or football match, not to mention a couple of hundred pounds for a new tyre.

From a management point of view, this can jeopardise deliveries, reputation and in some cases, driver safety as well. And this is without the administrative burden on the fleet manager. This incident will involve recovering the vehicle and driver, carrying out repairs, providing the driver with another vehicle perhaps in the event of suspension damage, reporting it to insurers, managing the claim process culminating in recovering the alternative vehicle and giving the driver back his original.

Can you claim against the local council in the United Kingdom? Well, you can try, but they seem to be inundated at present, and they will often try to use the “section 58 defence”, which can make things a lot more difficult.

So, what can you do about it? Well, not a lot really, but wherever possible, try to avoid them or if that is not possible, at least go through them at crawling speed to give your car the best chance of dealing with it. Drivers should also be instructed to keep tyre pressures up to manufacturers’ specifications.

And of course, always remember to dry your brakes afterwards by dabbing them for a few seconds whilst moving along.

If you do hit one that is anything other than a minor bump, you should pull over as soon as it is safe to do so and check the offending wheel. If there is a bulge in the tyre, you should not continue as this will risk a sudden blowout, possible loss of control and potentially a serious accident.

Call for recovery if you are unable to easily change the wheel without putting yourself in danger.


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