December 22nd, 2022Holy cow! When will the potholes end?
Words: Tony Sawrey | Main image: Kyle Barnes | Inset: Supplied
EVERYBODY has hit a pothole over the past few months as they continue to pop up, or down, all over the Central Highlands.
And Jamie Adams of Daylesford Tyre and Windscreen Service, pictured, has seen the worst of the damage. He reckons even one the width and breadth of the old classic wooden ruler, 300mm by 300mm, and just 80mm deep, can cause massive damage.
“If you hit something like that at 100km/h in a machine weighing more than 1500kg you are probably impacting at a force equal to 15 tonnes,” he said.
“We still get an average of six cars a week with pothole damage and this has been going on for the past four months. That’s a combination of ruined tyres and cracked, bent and broken rims that have to be repaired or replaced.
“You have always got to be looking because a hole that wasn’t there yesterday could appear tomorrow.”
And in his experience, the vehicles suffering the most damage are luxury cars such as BMWs and Mercedes.
“Anything that runs a low-profile tyre. Whereas say, a 4WD tyre with a big high wall will soak up the impact a lot more. But on some cars there is no wall to speak of and in those cases they will bugger both the tyre and the rim. In the past three months we have had three cars that needed to be towed back to Melbourne because we couldn’t help them out.”
So, if you do have damage caused by potholes are you entitled to compensation? That’s not straightforward according to Hepburn Shire Council’s Infrastructure and Delivery director Bruce Lucas, inset.
“If a driver damages their car while driving on a road, the issue of liability depends on a range of the circumstances as each incident will be different,” Bruce said. “If a driver believes council or a road manager has been negligent, they can submit a claim to council/road authority and this will be assessed by insurers.”
Bruce said the road network falls under various classifications with the state government responsible for freeways, highways and arterial roads, and local government responsible for most other public roads except for those in a state forest.
Every council has a road management plan prepared in accordance with the Road Management Act. Its purpose is to establish service level targets for regional road networks in normal operating conditions. But due to the extent of flood damaged infrastructure, Hepburn Shire Council has enacted the ‘Force Majeure’ (unforeseen circumstances) clause meaning that due to the exceptional circumstances of recent heavy rain, the council is unable to meet the requirements set out in the Act.
Bruce said 74 per cent of Hepburn Shire’s road network has had some form of damage by recent storm/flooding events and given the widespread nature of the damage, they don’t have the ability to place signs at every location to alert drivers.
“We have contractors across the entire shire working as quickly as possible to undertake repairs related to the storm/flood events and this will continue, weather dependent, until mid-late 2023. In the meantime, all road users need to take extreme care when driving on the road, slow down, drive to the conditions and keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front so you can see the condition of the road.”