A local authority has defended new figures that show it has paid out hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation because of pothole accident claims over the last five years.
Statistics obtained by the Bromsgrove Advertiser show that since 2009, Worcestershire County Council has paid out £393,449 in compensation to people injured or involved in accidents caused by potholes.
The figures also showed that more than 500 drivers and cyclists are coming to the authority every year claiming compensation because they have been injured or their vehicle or bike was damaged by poor road surfaces.
However, Worcestershire County Council believes the figures are a reflection of the fact that more people are reporting pothole accidents and other road defects. As a result, the authority is more aware of this issue "than ever before".
"That means we can get it logged quicker and get the pothole looked at much faster, so that's helped us with these claims for compensation," said Councillor John Smith, cabinet member for highways and transportation at the council.
He also pointed out Worcestershire County Council has "got much better" at getting relevant information about pothole accident injuries to insurance companies.
"It's not as if we're not paying for genuine claims, we still do," Councillor Smith commented.
"The figures are good news for us as they clearly show improvements."
Pothole Accident Injuries in London
The state of the roads is also proving to be an emotive subject in other parts of the country. For instance, in the London borough of Kingston upon Thames, the local authority has also received multiple claims for compensation following accidents and injuries caused by potholes.
As a result, Kingston Council promised to invest the money generated by parking tickets and traffic fines into upgrading road surfaces in the area to prevent further pothole accidents and injuries.
Many of the people claimin compensation for pothole related accidents have been cyclists and a local cycling group has been among those to criticise the state of the roads.
Jon Fray, spokesman for Kingston Cycling Campaign, told the Kingston Guardian there are "scores of potholes" on roads in the borough and more than a few are accidents just waiting to happen.
He said he was surprised that more claims for compensation from injured cyclists and also by motor bike riders have not been received by the council.
"It is fair that if people are injured or have their bikes damages they should claim compensation," Mr Fray commented.
Glen Keywood of Brag Residents' Association added that potholes are "so dangerous" for cyclists. He insisted it is therefore very important for roads to be resurfaced in the interests of public safety.
Mr Keywood acknowledged that the local authority has started to address the pothole issue, with a number of roads being resurfaced recently. However, he warned that some areas still present problems, with Richmond Park Road being a particularly dangerous pothole route for cyclists.
Pothole Repairs Underfunded
According to figures from Potholes.co.uk road maintenance in England & Wales is underfunded by about £1 billion a year. The organisation also pointed out that poor road surfaces lead to councils paying out more than £30 million in compensation claims annually.