Police 'tell drivers potholes are good for slowing down speeding motorists'

Locals said an officer from Essex Police gave the bizarre advice at the village's recent annual meeting

File photo dated 11/5/2018 of a car hitting a pothole on a road. Drivers are being urged to report every road surface crack
The UK is suffering from a severe potholes problem. (PA)

Villagers have spoken of their shock after they claimed police told them potholes are useful for slowing down traffic.

Residents in the village of Pentlow in Essex said a police officer told them that leaving potholes in the road is one way to encourage motorists to stop speeding, the Mail Online reported.

Locals said an officer from Essex Police gave the bizarre advice at the village's recent annual meeting.

Potholes have become a scourge on the UK's roads in recent years.

Last week, breakdown company the AA said it received more than 52,000 call-outs in April to vehicles stranded because of faults likely caused by potholes.

Watch: AA urges motorists to report every pothole

This was an increase of 29% in call-outs on the same month in 2022. The AA urged motorists to report every small crack in the road.

While villagers in Pentlow were stunned by the police advice, local councillors insisted that any way of slowing down traffic would be welcomed.

"It was extraordinary," said one resident.

Read more: What causes potholes and why does the UK have so many?

"The official police advice apparently is that potholes are a good thing, so leave craters in the road because they slow down drivers.

"Leaving the craters in the road would probably cause drivers to swerve suddenly and that could cause an accident too."

Another resident said of the potholes: "I saw one driver recently changing his wheel after going through - it is easy to pick up a puncture or damage a rim. But frankly anything that slows traffic down is welcome."

Councillor Julian Calver said: "It's not totally a bad idea - the potholes certainly make drivers reduce their speed through here."

And parish councillor Melanie Davies said: "Anything that helps slow drivers down is welcome, and if the officer was being serious then it might serve as a means of making motorists drive more slowly."

A spokesman for Essex Police told Yahoo News UK: "At Essex Police our focus is on catching criminals because that’s what the people of Essex want us to do.

"We don’t have a corporate position on potholes."

What is a pothole and how do they form?

A pothole is a depression in a road surface caused by wear or sinking.

They start out as tiny cracks in the surface but can grow if not fixed.

The friction of vehicles' tyres on a road heats up the surface and causes it to expand.

Over a period of time, this expansion leads to cracks in the surface. Water can then seep into these cracks. Potholes are formed when the water in those cracks freezes and thaws.

Why does the UK have so many potholes?

The UK is more susceptible to potholes because of its climate.

The UK's weather means roads are susceptible to potholes. (Getty)
The UK's weather means roads are susceptible to potholes. (Getty)

Cold and wet weather, particularly during the winter months, means water can get into those cracks in the road and then freeze, eventually leading to potholes.

The heavy road use and traffic on the UK's roads is also a factor.

Councils also have tight budgets to fix potholes.

How to report potholes?

Anyone who wishes to report a pothole can go to the government's dedicated website for the problem.

From there, they will be directed to their local council's pothole reporting service, where they can fill in an online form.

To report the pothole, they need the location of the pothole and details of its size. They must also upload any pictures of the pothole.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 10:A pothole filled with water in a road on June 10,2022 in London, England. (Photo by Peter Dazeley/Getty Images)
The UK's climate makes it the perfect breeding ground for potholes. (Getty Images)

Councils vow to inspect the area identified within about three to five working days.

If the pothole is on a motorway or an A road then reports should be directed to Highways England.

In Wales, roads are managed by Traffic Wales, while potholes in Scotland can be reported at My Gov Scotland.

In Northern Ireland, potholes can be reported through the NI Direct website.

How to claim for pothole damage?

The government says motorists may be able to claim compensation if their vehicle is damaged by a road.

They should contact the organisation responsible to tell them about the damage, why they think they are responsible and details of where and when the damage was caused.

According to the AA, motorists should start by reporting the pothole to their local authority.

After having their car repaired, they may be able to claim compensation from the council.

Motorists should inform the council of the location of the pothole and include details of quotes, invoices and receipts for their repairs.

If the claim is rejected, motorists can appeal.