January 13, 2010

“Yo, something’s wrong here. No, not again!” rapped psychedelically inclined hip hoppers De La Soul disconsolately back in 1989.

What was the cause of their displeasure?

Potholes. That’s what.

And now the self-same spatial vacancies are causing consternation among the good folks down at AA headquarters.

The twelve-step self-help group is calling for emergency government funds to help councils combat crumbling road surfaces brought on by uncommonly inclement winter weather.

Like Mr Gullit’s happily slumbering wife, phonetically speaking at least, drivers who think they are out of trouble now the snow has started to melt may be in for a rude awakening.

Last February’s heavy snow, the AA warns, pushed up insurance claims for pothole damage by more than 250%. Now, if this year’s crop of potholes go untreated, motorists, local authorities, insurers and the NHS could all be caught up in a viscous circle of calamity.

Cash-strapped councils can’t be left to fund repairs from their own meagre resources, the AA suggests. They’ll probably be too busy –logging compensation claims from disgruntled motorists and slip-trip pedestrians anyway.

Dangerous for anyone on four wheels, potholes can be fatal for those on two wheels. So they’re certainly something to be taken seriously.

Just as well, then, that the AA has handy hints on where to look out for pothole problems, e.g. places where previous repairs haven’t been carried out very well, places where the utility people have had the roads up, places where it’s been snowy for a long time, and “stretches of road that have not been salted as salt tends to melt the snow before it turns to ice.”

King Edmund of AA said: “The pothole season has come early this year. Drivers will be relieved when the snow has gone, but shouldn’t be complacent. Due to the severe winter, it could be a record year for potholes.

“Over time,” he explains, “cracks appear in the road surface, so when water seeps in, it freezes and expands, widening the crack. We are concerned that, with local authorities already stretched due to the drain of the winter, there will not be enough in the purse to heal our ravaged roads. We believe that emergency funding is required to stop the vicious circle of crumbling roads costing more in compensation, accident claims and hospital admissions.”

If anyone sees a pothole they should not approach it, but should call the AA potholeshotline on a number Bankstone News does not appear to have to hand.

Be sure to remain alert, however, or your own driving experience could be ravaged by the vicious drain of severe winter holes.



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