How to Report Potholes in the UK

Potholes. The bane of a motorist’s life. There’s not much worse than when you’re driving along and then out of the blue – BANG – your car smashes through what can only be described as a portal into another dimension and you’re already preparing yourself for a costly visit to the nearest garage.

It turns out you’re not alone. Figures published by the Asphalt Industry Alliance in March 2021 showed that almost 1.7 million potholes were filled in during 2020-21, which works out at one being sorted every 19 seconds. Spending on filling in potholes by local authorities was also listed as being £93.6m. 

The problem isn’t likely to go away anytime soon, either, with a carriageway maintenance backlog across the country that would equate to 10 years worth of work to clear at an average cost of £49,573 per mile.

So, what do you do if you discover a pothole on your journey home? Let us talk you through the process.

Who looks after the road?

While you’d probably expect to be ringing your report through to your local council, major roads, such as motorways and trunk roads, will be the responsibility of National Highways. Most councils will give you the option to report any issues online, while all have their own emergency telephone line for serious issues. National Highways also has a 24hr service on 0300 123 5000 or you can email [email protected] for non-emergencies.

How big is it?

One of the very first questions you’ll be asked when reporting a pothole is how big it is. Most councils will only jump to action if the pothole is of a particularly large size. Most councils will not act if the pothole is smaller than 40mm, where they will be picked up at the usual road inspections. This can, of course, be done through taking an educated guess at the size of the pothole – we’re not expecting you to get on your hands and knees with a tape measure in the middle of your daily commute!

Where are you?

Once you have your dimensions to hand, make a note of where you are. The road name is key, but in order to identify the exact location of where your report is coming from, make a note of any nearby landmarks or houses and buildings. It will also help if you can identify where it sits within the carriageway or if it’s close to any junctions.

Other road issues

While the pothole is the most common of issues found on the road, there are many more that can crop up along the way that you, as a road user, should keep in mind and if anything does concern you, you should always err on the side of caution and report it to your local council.

These can include, but are not limited to:

  • Road or footway collapse (otherwise known as a sinkhole)
  • Landslide
  • Collapsed bridges, walls or scaffolding
  • Damage to street “furniture” (i.e. road signs)
  • Any debris or spillages from accidents
  • Large dead animals such as cattle, deer or horses blocking the road
  • Fallen trees or street lamps
  • Damaged manhole covers
  • Exposed electrical wires (such as from a streetlamp)
  • Traffic lights that are not working – whether permanent or temporary

What do I do if I hit a pothole?

No matter how hard you try, sometimes avoiding an upcoming pothole is just simply impossible, and sooner or later everyone’s going to clatter their way through one. Even if you’ve gone through one at a relatively low speed, damage still could have occurred, so once it is safe to do so, pull over and have a look for any visible signs of damage to either your wheels or tyres.

Also keep your eyes out for any vibrations or any pulling coming from the steering wheel as you may have damaged your suspension in a way that is not obviously visible to the naked eye. If anything feels off, go to your nearest garage as soon as possible as tracking or steering damage is not only dangerous for you, but could also put other road users in trouble.

If the pothole has caused any damage that requires repairs, you could be entitled to compensation from your local council. Make sure to make a note of all the details of both the damage, the work and the pothole itself and get in touch with your local authority. Even if you don’t feel it’s worth the hassle, remember, your local council can’t fix potholes that aren’t on their radar, nor can they be held responsible if it wasn’t aware of any issues.  

If damage caused from a pothole is the final straw for your ageing vehicle, perhaps it’s time for a change. Get a quote from Scrap Car Comparison today and put that money on your next set of wheels.

Get Quote Now

Get Offers For
Your Scrap Car In
Less Than 30 Seconds


Best price in 30 seconds

Your request is processing

Your request is processing...