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Surge in Car Breakdowns Caused by Potholes Amid Rainy July

Car breakdowns attributed to potholes experienced a significant increase during the rainy month of July, according to recent statistics.

The AA motoring organisation reported a nearly 20% rise in call-outs for car damage caused by potholes compared to the same period last July. The persistent wet weather often obscured potholes from drivers' view, and repair efforts by local councils were hindered.

Common issues reported included damage to shock absorbers and wheels. In July alone, the AA received a staggering 50,079 call-outs to assist vehicles stranded due to encounters with potholes, marking the highest number for that month since 2018.

Furthermore, the AA noted that 2023 had become the third "worst year" for pothole-related breakdowns, with 362,172 incidents attended to by the end of the previous month.

This problem adds another layer of financial strain to drivers already grappling with record-high car expenses, including a 21% increase in insurance costs compared to the same time last year.

For instance, June Leatheam, a 72-year-old resident of Whitchurch in Hampshire, had to replace two tires at a cost of £200 after hitting a pothole in July.

"When I drove along, knowing the holes are there, I was going quite tentatively. But the car just dipped and there was a bang," she said.

June only became aware of the full extent of the damage when her car was scheduled for an MOT, during which she was notified that her tires were exhibiting bulges.

Jack Cousens, the Head of Roads Policy at the AA, emphasised that local councils will face increased pressure to prioritize and complete planned repair work ahead of the winter season.

During winter, potholes tend to worsen as water infiltrates cracks in the road. The repeated cycle of freezing and thawing in cold temperatures compromises the road's structure, leading to the eventual dislodgment of materials due to the movement of vehicles, resulting in the formation of potholes.

"With 2023 looking to be one of the worst years on record for pothole damage, we need to see more investment in local roads maintenance funding," Mr Cousens said.

He further noted that for cyclists and motorbike riders, pothole-related damage can have fatal consequences.

The estimated cost of rectifying potholed roads in England and Wales stands at £14 billion.

To address this issue, the government has bolstered its Potholes Fund by an additional £200 million, increasing it to £709 million for the year 2023.

Shaun Davies, Chair of the Local Government Association, highlighted that "decades" of reduced government funding have resulted in councils grappling with the largest-ever annual backlog in pothole repairs.

A spokesperson from the Department for Transport stated, "It's for local authorities to maintain their highways.

"To help them do that we're investing more than £5bn from 2020 to 2025, with an extra £200m announced at the Budget in March to resurface roads up and down the country."

The spokesperson also mentioned the introduction of new regulations aimed at curbing utility companies' practices of leaving potholes behind after conducting street works.

In a noteworthy case from June, a resident from Southeast London resorted to transforming potholes into art installations as a creative means of drawing attention to the issue and urging the council to take action.