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More than 1,600 pothole breakdowns a day in May as fake insurance claims rise

Written by: Rebecca Goodman
There were 49,801 pothole breakdown incidents in May, more than 1,600 a day, as recorded by the AA.

This is a 4% drop on April’s figure of 52,070 but also the second-highest monthly figure recorded since 2017 when these records first began.

The AA said that although the numbers of pothole incidents are likely to drop as the weather improves, the “awful state of road surfaces” means there is now a greater risk to cyclists and those on motorbikes.

The problem is so bad that the AA is calling for 2023 to be named “The year of the pothole” with a 29% rise in pothole-related call outs in April.

In the first four months of 2023 pothole breakdowns also increased by 23% when compared to 2022.

In March, the AA said it could cost £14bn and take 11 years for a catch-up operation to repair UK roads from the damage caused by the weather this winter.

It is also pricey for drivers, with it costing an average of £90 to get a tyre fixed and £250 for alloy wheels.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said; “Such has been extent of damage to UK roads, caused by winter’s ravages and poor road maintenance over many years, that the May bank holiday road travellers ran the risk of major damage and repair bills – particularly if they ventured off the main roads into the country.

“The big concern is the extra risk posed for the increased number of cyclists and bikers on to the road. Yes, the drier weather might have made the potholes easier to spot, but the sheer number of potholes means the odds are stacked against road users.”

Fake pothole claims on the rise

It comes as local councils have been warned against a rise in fake pothole damage claims, amid the cost-of-living crisis.

The public sector insurer, Zurich Municipal, said that extreme weather conditions in 2022 had seen a rise in the number of road defects and these had lead to a rise in the criminals falsely blaming potholes for damage that already existed on their vehicles.

Overall, in 2022, the insurer detected 571 fraudulent claims made against councils, worth £16.2m. This represents an 18% increase on the previous year, with the value of detected frauds increasing by 68%.

Scott Clayton, Head of Claims Fraud at Zurich UK, said: “It’s vital that local authorities take the current heightened fraud risk seriously. While the cost of fraud against councils ultimately impacts the public purse, there are also significant social costs, including the funding of organised crime and costs to the judicial system.”

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