The pothole pandemic has been a feature of British life a lot longer than other plagues. It is a subject that we come back to year after year, and not a lot seems to change. The only thing that does is the increase in problem roads, damage to vehicles and the total estimated cost of puting things right.

The cuts to road repair budgets and austerity over the last decade have caused the situation to get worse. What seems quite rediculous is that Local Authorities continue to pay more and more in motorist compensation for damage to vehicles. However, the cost of wholesale road repairs require huge sums up front and central government is unwilling to fund it. Instead we rely on poor patching that has only limited, short-term success, and it isn’t cheap.

In terms of road safety it is an issue. Drivers avoiding holes often veer across lanes. Crashes sometime occur. But also general road holding and braking abilities are reduced. Finally, drivers spend more time scanning for potholes rather than vulnerable road users or other driving dangers.

Bill Plant driving school recently sent a Freedom of Information request to England’s councils. The idea was to gather and truer picture of just how bad England’s pothole crisis is. Specifically, where are the most affected areas in the UK.

The questions

The FOI request asked the following:

  1. How many potholes were fixed in your area in 2020?
  2. How many complaints did you receive relating to potholes in your area in 2020?
  3. How many claims for compensation did you receive relating to potholes in your area in 2020?
  4. How much compensation was given to those whose vehicles were damaged by potholes in your area in 2020?

Not everyone responded, but the results provide a more detailed picture of the roads.

The results

Nottinghamshire fixed the highest number of potholes

From all the data received, more than 816,000 potholes were fixed in England alone last year. Roughly 1 in 8 of those, believe it or not, were located in Nottinghamshire.

Here you can see which counties fixed the most potholes last year:


However, Surrey received the most pothole complaints

There were more than 240,000 complaints made directly to county councils throughout 2020 in relation to potholes.

While Nottinghamshire may have fixed the most, they were either ahead of the game in terms of fixing them before they became an issue, or residents there may simply be more relaxed about them. It was actually found to be Surrey that received the most complaints – 64,100 to be exact.

The below image shows the top 10 counties that complained the most about potholes:



But it was Lincolnshire that paid out the most pothole-related compensation

Unfortunately for residents of Lincolnshire, the potholes they faced last year were just too much. There were 1,491 claims for compensation, resulting in the county council paying out £218,617.63 in compensation. It’s worth noting that it’s not likely every claim was a successful one.

Alarmingly, Staffordshire had the second-highest number of claims for compensation. However, they paid out slightly less compared to what was paid out in Oxfordshire.

You can see the top 10 county council pay-outs (and the total number of claims) here:


Lessons learned

Tom Hixon, Head of Instructor Support says:  “Potholes are such a danger on our roads in the UK. They can damage suspensions, axles and wheels, with accidents typically occurring by drivers trying to avoid them.

Due to the significant road safety issues they can present, local authorities should better plan resources to address potholes. Especially when you look at the level of compensation being paid out in just one year!”

When it comes to driving lessons, Tom believes we should all “expect the road surfaces to be safe and fit for purpose”.