As potholes hit a five-year high, some councils are pinning their hopes on a £165,000 machine that claims to fix the road hazard in eight minutes.
Harrow Council in north-west London is rolling out the Pothole Pro JCB as part of a new initiative to transform roads. The authority said a new "pothole squad" would also be assembled to help find and fix the craters.
The team will be armed with the "revolutionary" machine “specifically designed to sort out any pothole repair or large reinstatement operations". Its manufacturer claims a typical pothole can be dealt with in just eight minutes.
Earlier this month, the AA revealed it had responded to 631,852 pothole-related incidents in 2023, the highest number in five years, and that last year pothole damage to vehicles cost £474m.
Harrow Council said it had repaired more than 1,500 potholes in the last 12 months and hoped the new JCB machines, part of a £241,000 scheme, would help alleviate the problem.
Councillor Anjana Patel, cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and community safety, said: "This coming year, we'll be repairing more roads and more quickly thanks to this new technology and pothole squad. A lot of work has already taken place over the last 12 months to fix some of our worst affected roads, but we know more needs to be done. We have been looking at new and innovative ways to deal with potholes you tell us about, and that we proactively find.
"I saw the new machines in action in Harrow and was really impressed to see how fast potholes are repaired. These repairs will be done at a high standard, longer lasting, save us money and help restore pride in Harrow."
However, Labour opposition councillor Peymana Assad wasn't convinced and called a report on the plan "waffle", the Harrow Times reported.
Why does the UK have so many potholes?
The UK is more susceptible to potholes because of its climate. Cold and wet weather, particularly during the winter months, means water can get into 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. 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.