Is £100m for UK potholes enough?

The fallout from the latest budget is continuing and though fuel prices top the topics of conversation, an extra £100 million towards potholes is a welcome boost for the UK’s crumbling roads.

This comes on top of £100 million set aside for pothole repair at the beginning of the year after severe icy weather – one of the main causes of potholes – gripped much of the UK last winter.

Despite the £200 million boost, investment in road infrastructure is being cut, and it stands to reason not all potholes in the UK will be seen to as part of the investment.

Luckily, car manufacturers are also doing their bit to help cars deal with UK roads. At the Dunton Technical Centre, where Ford’s UK research and design team is based, they have been preparing the new Ford Focus for the demanding UK roads prior to its launch next month.

Potholes are a major cause of misaligned steering, suspension failure and damage to tyres in the UK. Simon Mooney, test engineer at Dunton Technical Centre, explains one of the problems.

He said: "The challenge for the suspension system comes when it exits the pothole – it can be like hitting a kerbstone."

However, Ford engineers have worked hard to reduce the impact of potholes through the use of extensive testing. This means recording the strain on the new Focus’ suspension using a £1.5 million state-of-the-art test car.

"We test all the wheel and tyre sizes that are fitted to the production cars so we know they can cope. We use specially instrumented wheels on the car which measure the load in three directions," Mooney explained. "On some vehicles there are various sensors totalling some 200 extra channels through which to get the data."

It all means the new Ford Focus will be one of the best-equipped cars in the UK to deal with potholes. With government cuts making it more difficult than ever for councils to keep up with the cracks in our roads, any little bit of help manufacturers can give will be gratefully received by road users in the UK.

And it isn’t just Ford aiming to help UK motorists. Sue Mulcaster, a Kia Motors UK spokesperson believes there are steps drivers can take to minimise the damage to a car driving on a potholed road.

"Slowing down as much as possible and taking your foot off the brake before impact can help reduce damage, while holding the steering wheel firmly will help maintain control," she said.

Until the many potholes strewn across the UK are seen to, this may be the best way to avoid a costly repair bill or long-running legal battle to receive compensation from the council for damage to your car.

Read more on potholes here