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Potholes are the scourge of Britain’s roads, but is a solution in sight?

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January 21, 2021
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Digger maker JCB has unveiled a brand new piece of kit to tackle the national scourge of potholes.

The company has launched the PotholePro – a machine which they claim can repair potholes in less than eight minutes – four times quicker than standard methods and at half the cost of current solutions.


Picture supplied by JCB.

‘£11bn-worth of potholes need repairing’

It follows a vow from Chancellor Rishi Sunak last November to invest £1.6bn to fix potholes in Britain and ‘level-up’ uneven roads. Conservative estimates suggest £11bn-worth of potholes need repairing across the UK.

The machine’s development has been personally led by JCB Chairman Lord Bamford who said: “Potholes really are the scourge of our nation. 

“Our country is quite rightly fixated on this dreadful problem and as a British manufacturer I am fixated on finding a solution. We simply cannot allow our road network to continue to be blighted by potholes. 

“JCB’s solution is simple and cost effective and fixes potholes permanently, first time. Once the machine has done its job all the contractor then needs to do is just add tar.”

PotholePro takes eight minutes to do the job

Tests with local authorities and contractors show the JCB PotholePro can complete a pothole repair in less than eight minutes – equivalent to 700 potholes per month. 

With a 40km/h travel speed, the machine can rapidly relocate between sites without additional transport costs.

The machine has been in trials on roads in Stoke-on-Trent for months and the city council has worked with JCB over the past 12 months as innovation partners to develop the PotholePro.

In initial testing, the machine completed 51 road repair jobs in 20 days, which would have taken a team of up to six operatives 63 days to complete normally.

Councillor Daniel Jellyman, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for infrastructure, regeneration and heritage, said he had seen a 700% increase in productivity.


Potholes: ‘a nuisance and national problem’

He said: “Potholes are a nuisance to motorists up and down the country and we’ve worked closely with JCB to come up with a solution to what is a national problem.

“In a time when every penny and pound counts for local authorities, we’re delighted to be at the forefront of developing and trialling new technologies and ways of working, especially ones which could save residents money.”

It’s not only motorists who will benefit from JCB’s innovation. With more people taking up cycling to avoid public transport because of the pandemic and the possible legalisation of e-scooters, sorting our poor road surfaces becomes an even bigger priority to protect these new and even more vulnerable road users.

The PotholePro allows the contractor or local authority to cut the defect, crop the edges and clean the hole with one machine – mechanising jobs traditionally done by pothole gangs and delivering up to a 50% cut in daily costs.

It is equipped with a 600mm wide planer and integrated dust suppression system, enabling the operator to plane a full carriageway from the kerb, without repositioning. 

The machine also comes with a sweeper/bucket and hydraulic cropping tool, allowing a uniform hole to be prepared by the operator from the comfort of their cab.

The streets of shame

Councils get a request to fix a pothole every 46 seconds and more than £8.1 million was paid out in compensation to drivers last year for vehicle damage caused by potholes.

The worst areas in the UK, in terms of the number of potholes reported to local councils are:

  1. Cornwall – 210,311
  1. Cambridgeshire – 184,402
  1. Derbyshire – 172,297
  1. Devon – 147,779
  1. Oxfordshire – 110,106
  1. East Riding of Yorkshire – 106,144
  1. Durham – 99,630
  1. Rotherham – 83,964
  1. Hertfordshire – 72,230
  1. Fife – 70,254

To report potholes in England and Wales visit the government website. There are separate online tools to report a pothole Northern Ireland and Scotland.

A policy for potholes

Some people have been driven to distraction by potholes they have encountered. Read about and see the crazy things they have done to them here.

Adrian Flux meanwhile is one of the few insurance brokers offering pothole damage insurance as an optional extra on policies. The best Adrian Flux policies are only available over the phone. If you are a current customer call  0344 381 6502 5o find out about pothole cover. If your insurance with your current provider is coming up for renewal and you are interested in pothole cover as part of your policy, call  0333 554 6241

  • Where is the worst pothole you encounter on your daily commute, or shopping run? Send us details and a picture if possible. Exercise extreme caution when taking photographs at the roadside. 


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