I HAVE been very fortunate in my career to have been able to drive some of the best vehicles on the road today, from luxury limousines to the finest sports cars.
It saddens me to have to say that I really don’t get the enjoyment I used to from driving these premium machines. Why? Well … Imagine driving down a dark country lane at night. The wind is blowing a gale. There are overhanging trees everywhere.
A car heads towards you with its misaligned lights dazzling you and the next thing you know there’s a loud bang. You are inclined to think you have been hit, until you realise that in fact it’s you who has hit something. In this case, a large pothole.
You reverse and try to spot where it is and then you see it, ring-fenced with a white painted circle because someone else has already reported it. If you meet oncoming traffic on a subsequent evening, wet and windy again, you will hear that same loud bang until it is filled.
In the past year, local councils in England alone paid out £23.8million to drivers in compensation claims according to the Asphalt Industry Alliance. The Alliance also estimates the cost to councils of restoring our roads to good condition is now £10.5billion.
The problem at the moment is that councils seem unwilling, just like central government, to grasp the central issue – that the main road arteries supporting the flow of commercial activity in this country are deteriorating at an alarming rate.
This is not only having a knock-on effect in terms of increased traffic congestion, but it’s also costing business and private motorists who are left to pick up the tab for repairs from pothole damage. Bills that they are often unable to claim back from local authorities due to the complexities of the compensation process.
Common sense, supported by research, says that a long-term approach to maintenance – involving repairs with rollers and edge sealants – will ultimately cost councils less, save businesses and drivers repair bills, and keep us on the move.