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Why fixing a pothole means more than just safe journeys


We know about the damage that potholes can do to vehicles, but the knock-on impacts on people’s lives should also be considered when calculating the value of fixing them. Here’s one person’s story…

During lockdown last year, Cath was on her way to hospital for an MRI scan to her brain. She had been suffering from debilitating headaches for over a week, and with a family history of aneurisms, the doctors wanted to check her out. But a few minutes into her journey, the car she was in, driven by her husband Andy, had hit a pothole.

“We didn’t see it at all,” recalls Cath. “We just felt this terrible jolt and heard the noise as the front wheel hit the pothole, followed by the back wheel.” Both front and rear passenger side tyres were punctured and both wheels bent.

The council repaired the pothole within days, having been informed of the incident. But the knock-on effects for Cath and Andy lasted longer.

The first problem for Cath was getting to her appointment. It was the last one of the day, scheduled for 7pm, and she wasn’t able to get through on the hospital telephone system to tell them she would be late. She and Andy had to abandon the car and walk home 20 minutes to pick up their second car and drive to the hospital.

Although they arrived late, the MRI department did agree to scan her, but the operator was cross about it, says Cath. “I was told not to bother undressing but just to lie down so they could get on with it. I was really dreading the MRI scan, but the stress of arriving late, and then being rushed into the machine made it so much worse.”

The good news for Cath was that no aneurism was found. But Andy, a self-employed painter and decorator, had to spend many hours arranging for the car tyres to be fixed and then making a claim with the local council.

“We were made to feel like criminals, as if we were trying to con the council out of new tyres,” says Cath of the claims process. Despite filling out forms, sending many messages and providing photographic evidence of the damage and the pothole, it took four months for the council to agree to payment – and then it was 30% below the cost of the new tyres. The council refused to pay to repair the damage to the wheels.

“The wheels are still bent so the car is out of balance, but we couldn’t spend any more time and energy on the claims process,” says Cath, who is also self-employed. The couple don’t have the funds currently to pay for the wheels to be repaired.

Aside from the immediate stress that Cath and Andy’s encounter with the pothole caused, there were multiple ripple effects from the incident: Andy lost valuable work time and felt hugely frustrated by the compensation claim process, they didn’t recover all the cost of the damage, and the life expectancy of their car is now diminished.

If only that pothole had been filled in a day sooner…

Thermal Road Repairs is a green technology company which supplies systems to improve the quality, cost and time efficiency of road repairs and paving – at a far lower environmental cost than traditional methods. We invest significantly in R&D, to create new technologies and to continuously improve our existing ones.

High output. Low emission. Permanent solution.

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