Pothole damage reaches near epidemic proportions, say AA

It’s been a very poor financial start to the year for Irish motorists who are contending with escalating fuel prices and pothole damage. An AA Motor Insurance poll of more than 21,000 motorists reveals that in the region of 1 in 6 motorists have been forced to foot the bill for repair jobs and or call upon the AA as a result of pothole damage.

“This is a disproportionately high number of pothole related incidents in comparison to other months, says John Farrell Director of AA Motor Insurance. “However it’s hardly surprising given the visible degradation of our road surfaces.”

The AA Motor Insurance Poll also reveals that some counties are worse afflicted than others. At the upper end of the spectrum, 23% of respondents in both Wexford and Roscommon said that they have had to bring their car to the garage for repairs, call upon the AA’s breakdown services or both since the beginning of the year. Other counties to report a high number of incidents are Monaghan, Mayo, Offaly, Longford and Clare.

The situation is slightly better, although far from ideal, in counties Waterford and Dublin where the lowest number of incidents were reported. 12% of motors surveyed in both these counties said they sustained damage to their car following a wallop from a pothole.

“It’s important for motorists to slow down when they’re forced into a situation where they cannot avoid a pothole, says Farrell. “Tyre damage for example, unless sustained during an accident, will be viewed by your insurer as wear and tear so it’s in your interest to regulate your driving to deal with potholes.”

The AA offers further advice on minimizing pothole damage on their website, www.aaireland.ie in the AA Zone.

The most common pothole complaints reported during the AA Motor Insurance Poll were a warped wheel rim and punctures. Both of these faults were sustained by 55% of those respondents who said their vehicle required repairs following an unfavourable dalliance with a pothole within the last 12 months. Damage to their vehicle’s steering alignment and shock absorbers were the next most common complaints.

“In most cases the damage done is relatively minor, like a puncture. The repair cost less than €100. But we have heard from people who have had to pay €2000 or more to fix damaged wheels and suspensions,” says Farrell.


Notes to the editor

Fig. 1 (A) Last time respondents hit a pothole or a damaged road surface which necessitated a garage repair to the car and/or a call-out to the AA (Based on 21,388 responses)

Frequency % of respondents
Has happened since the start of 2011 15.7%
Between the start of September 2010 and the end of December 2010 11.7%
Between the start of June and the end of August 2010 2.1%
Between the start of January and the end of May 2010 4.6%
During 2009 5.2%
Prior to 2009 9.7%
Do not recall 12.3%
Has never occurred 38.7%


(B) Last time respondents hit a pothole or a damaged road surface which necessitated a garage repair to the car and/or a call-out to the AA on a county by county basis. (Based on 21,388 responses)

County Since start of 2011 Between start Sept & end of Dec ‘10 Between start June & end Aug ‘10 Between start Jan & end May ‘10 During ‘09 Prior to ‘09 Number of responses
Carlow 13.9% 12.9% 2.6% 3.6% 9.3% 12.4% 194
Cavan 18.0% 17.0% 3.6% 1.5% 6.2% 12.9% 194
Clare 20.4% 15.2% 0.8% 5.2% 5.0% 10.5% 382
Cork 18.1% 13.0% 2.1% 6.7% 5.8% 7.1% 2189
Donegal 16.7% 14.8% 2.2% 4.4% 4.4% 8.5% 317
Dublin 12.0% 9.2% 1.8% 2.7% 4.0% 9.9% 7345
Galway 19.7% 14.0% 2.7% 4.8% 6.6% 8.9% 884
Kerry 18.2% 13.9% 3.1% 5.6% 5.6% 10.5% 324
Kildare 13.6% 11.4% 2.2% 5.6% 5.4% 12.7% 1287
Kilkenny 17.6% 13.3% 4.0% 7.2% 6.1% 7.6% 278
Laois 14.8% 10.9% 1.6% 3.9% 7.0% 8.6% 257
Leitrim 18.6% 9.3% 2.1% 6.2% 3.1% 9.3% 97
Limerick 14.0% 13.4% 3.4% 6.8% 6.2% 10.0% 680
Longford 20.8% 13.3% 2.5% 1.7% 3.3% 11.7% 120
Louth 18.6% 11.4% 1.1% 5.5% 8.1% 13.4% 456
Mayo 21.1% 12.3% 3.7% 7.0% 3.7% 8.9% 383
Meath 14.9% 15.5% 3.1% 5.5% 7.2% 12.0% 902
Monaghan 21.2% 18.6% 1.8% 4.4% 6.2% 8.8% 113
Offaly 18.8% 13.4% 2.0% 4.5% 4.5% 5.4% 202
Roscommon 23.4% 12.4% 1.0% 3.3% 7.2% 6.7% 209
Sligo 19.3% 8.1% 0.9% 5.4% 4.0% 11.7% 223
Tipperary 17.3% 13.7% 1.9% 7.3% 7.9% 7.9% 467
Waterford 12.3% 17.6% 2.5% 5.9% 6.4% 6.6% 438
Wexford 23.0% 13.9% 1.9% 8.5% 5.3% 6.6% 531
Wicklow 17.6% 9.9% 2.1% 5.1% 5.2% 11.5% 849


Fig. 2 Damaged sustained to the vehicles of poll respondents within the last 12 months as a result of potholes or a damaged road surfaces. (Based on 8,133 responses)

Damaged my vehicle tyre rims 55.8%
Had a puncture 55.2%
Damaged the steering alignment 47.3%
Dented the undercarriage of my vehicle 10.0%
Damaged the shock absorbers / shock absorption system 21.8%
Damaged bodywork 7.2%
Collided with another vehicle 0.4%
Was injured 0.4%
Caused damage to property 0.4%
Caused an injury to a 3rd party 0.2%


  1. Thanks to the disgraceful pothole-ridden roads here in Co.Wexford, I have had to replace both front balljoints (one actually snapped) on my car.
    And because of the balljoint breaking, I have also had to replace both front shock absorbers (one burst, thanks to the body of my car collapsing on it’s front wheel!!) Also it has cost me a new set of track rods.
    This is not because I am a bad driver, I am careful with my car because I really like it and need it. Even a slow, careful driver cannot avoid the constant vibrating that the crappy roads down here cause.

    The roads here in north Wexford anr in bits, with holes like moon-craters. Along with this, every time you have to drive on the backroads, you take your life in your hands and are forced nearly off the road with other drivers coming around corners in the middle of the road and meeting you head-on,

  2. I had to have my car repaired at a cost of €180 Euro and am still left with a dent in my bonnet (still out of line) after the suspension pushed it out after hitting a pot hole on a dark night between Bolivor and Trim

  3. We have some of the highest mororing costs in Europe but by far the worst roads. After a grim succession of transport ministers with a scant training we have roads that are deplorable, I do not know who the bard was who made the famous comment over 100years ago “Irish roads are a series of potholes loosly held together with tarmac” famous indeed but a hundred years on and it beggars belief they are still to the same standard. On minister when asked about the infamous tar and chip system told me personally it was the safest surface, the surface with the best grip plus fantastic durability. Well tell me I am a bit soft between the ears but Mondello park aint tar and chip, neither are to mention a few the Mulsanne straight at le Mans, Brands Hatch, Silverstone, Mallory Park, Indianapolis. so that was another Irish Ministerial Lie. Raod Tax…. spend it anywhere other than roads…. fuel duty same, council funds,,, well a few bob in a pot hole fund which is not bottomles unlike the pot holes. The millions of euros spent by motorists as well as their insurers is alarming. The standard of the substructure of many roads is poor, add more chippings and a bit of tar and it is just thicker sub satndard then to top the whole lot along comes the council, scalp the road and make good…. my hole it does …. another few hundred lorry loads of ballast a roller a spray of tar a few chippings usually in the rain and a sub standard road a bit higher and a few less windscreens … oh yes the insurers have to pay out for….. This is endless

  4. i also witnessed a gang of workmen planting trees the other day close to the college in sallynoggin whilst the road at that particular spot has many extremely dangerous potholes

  5. The real problem here is that the county councils are allowed to secure tenders for repairing the roads when they don’t have the budget or skills to do the work.

    It’s a loop hole in the Irish system that should be legally challenged in Europe, under EU law all tenders should be open to EU companies but the councils here are allowed to allocate ‘several years budget’ to secure a single tender as opposed to EU companies who have the resources to do the job quickly and properly.

    Tax payers money is being squandered here, literally thrown in a hole year in year out, it’s a disgrace!

    Every month the councils are throwing millions of tax payers cash at the pothole problems and within only a few months the same potholes are back – because they don’t have the skills, equipment or budget to do the job right, they simply should not get the tenders under EU competition law.

    Allowing foreign EU companies to do the work would not cause unemployment here, the councils would have plenty of other valuable work to do. I’m really surprised that nobody in power has taken this legal case in Europe, the money that’s being wasted is collosal and could contribute greatly to other vital public services.

  6. I’ve replace 3 tyres and 3 shock absorbers since living in co. Kildare for 3 years. The roads are atrocious. I sometimes wonder if the people who run this country want the best and brightest to emmigrate, so they can stay and continue their deplorable work. I for sure am not going to sit around and be subjected to such rediculous management of our roads after all the money I pay into the system. It really angers me. I submitted a reimbursement request from the co co after the last tyre needed replacing, (just 3 months old), and I am a careful driver, but when someone is tailgating you on a 80kph road its hard to slowdown for a pothole that wasn’t there last week. The co.co. quoted the legalise in the Irish law that says they are not responsible for damage done caused by irish roads. the roads they’re responsible for. That is why there is no accountability. The law needs to be changed and if anyone out there has the money to fund taking this to the high court I will surely help them do it. But Im broke from all the car repairs.
    These co. co. are shameful.

  7. If our new government is only going to continue on the same lines as the last lot by ignoring the upkeep of our roads then they should scrap the NCT tests immediately as its only a mockery of what it was intended for?

    By leaving our roads go to pot is not going to solve anything as its going to cost treble the amount to repair or even much more as some stretches of roads will have to be totally re built again.

    On the other side our County Councils are a total disaster as they could not keep up with the repairs even in the good times let alone in these bad times, they should be disbanded all together and this should be given over to a new dept that would issue this work out on contract to private contractors that would do a quick and proper job at far less costs to the taxpayer.

    Its a big joke at the moment do they think that these roads will repair themselves or that some big miracle is going to happen, or that the public will forget about it and stop complaining, now this present government is nothing better then the last they are only a load of wind with no power!

  8. The roads through Dunmanway and Drimoleauge are very badly damaged,go very slow to avoid damage to your tyres and shock absorbers

  9. In the past 12 months I have damaged two wheels and tore one tyre, This ment two new tyres and eventually having to replace all of my wheels,
    Two suspension springs in front drivers side, My car failed the nct and two retests due to suspension problems which lead to me having to replace both shocks and coil springs front and rear,
    A costly and aggrivating bunch of problems to have to deal with due the poor quality of the road surfaces around county wicklow,
    I only have my current car a year and half and none of these problems were present when I first purchased it, And I know from my own experience with cars these problems do not arise so quickly from standard wear and tear,
    I have also replaced Right hand tie rod, Both front suspension drop links, Damaged my alingement setting (Problem possibly even in steering) And just afew weeks ago damaged my drivers side wishbone.
    All this from potholes and sub standard road surfaces in the area that I live.

    I like many others am sick to death of the quality of our roads,
    Why do we pay road tax? And such high taxes on fuel? And for our NCT??
    Its a whole load of bull we pay so much in tax and everything else and at the end of the day have to take the hardest blows again and again

  10. What happens when a motorcycle hits a pot hole? Especially if they are going around a corner.

  11. I live in Ballygarvan in Cork . There are large potholes in several places .Action is urgently needed at the bottom of the Glen Road near the junction with the R613 (Ballygarvan to Carrigaline Road).

    In general I would like to see resurfacing rather than lumps of tar in the odd pothole , but I don’t know if this is constrained by the present financial difficulties.

  12. West Cork is deadly. I got so sick of alloy damage I took them all off and replaced with steel wheels…..although buying a tank would have been the only sensible option.

  13. West Cork is deadly indeed. The wheels of my car are kind of square. Motor tax, Insurance, Petrol, repairs, even failed the NCT so another extra bill to pay thanks to the potholes.

  14. It is great coming onto discussion posts like this and venting your anger over the conditions of our roads and the AA are very proactive in trying to help raise awareness of the state of the roads. However, go one step further and report the potholes on http://www.potholes.ie, then if they are really bad potholes, upload photos and descriptions on the “Worst Pothole” tab of ur Facebook Page (www.fb.com/Potholes.ie). When we find the Worst Pothole in Ireland, we’re going to hound the County Council of the county where the pothole is to repair it. Let’s see if People Power still works in Ireland, “Is Feidir Linn!!!!!”

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