Feb 12, 2024

Man blames Bay Rd pothole for car damage

Calvin Jenkins’ car started making “clanging noises” while driving into town via Bay Rd, when he realised that something was wrong with his car.

Having realised that he drove over a large pothole, he said his car’s shock absorber was damaged despite driving at a speed less than what was prescribed for the road.

The Invercargill resident took his complaint to the Invercargill City Council, with a quote from a repairer, to let them know about the incident and ask for compensation to fix his car.

Jenkins emailed the council saying he was “happy to fit the parts myself if the council is happy to cover the cost of the parts”.

He believed that it was fair request due to the “inadequately maintained road conditions” that led to the damage.

“I said I was happy to sort out the labouring and everything and if they could pay for the parts. But they weren't interested in doing that,” he said.

A council response to Jenkins’s email says “our maintenance contractor have already made aware and they are progressing further to fix the defects on the road” and referred Jenkins to his insurer.

When The Southland Times asked the council about its policy on reimbursement for such cases, a council spokesperson said “council does not have a policy per se on vehicles damaged due to potholes, uneven roads or gravel”.

“If a person claims their vehicle has been damaged there are a number of variable factors that are assessed, and applicants are asked to liaise with their insurer in the first instance.

“There are a large number of considerations based on the individual circumstances of each claim or allegation of damage.

“Council is in the process of implementing some advisory communication to any motorist that may require “next steps” information under such circumstances.

“This advisory information will be made available on council’s website.”

After the incident, Jenkins went back to the spot to inspect it and found a large pothole which he says was more than a metre long.

He believed if a motorcyclist had hit the same pothole, they could have been killed.

There's been more traffic on that road for the last couple of months, some of which was because of roadworks in town, he said.

He believed the increase in traffic led to more potholes and defects on the road.

At the time of the incident, Jenkins said that he was driving at about 60kmh on a road where the speed limit was 80kmh.

The council has fixed the pothole since, but Jenkins said that he noticed many other people talking about the damage to their car, tyres and wheels online.

When asked about any complaints that the council received due to the potholes on Bay Rd, council manager of infrastructure operations Matthew Keil said it “has received four complaints regarding the pothole(s) in Bay Rd”.

“Subsequently, temporary traffic management (TTM) was installed at this location by our contractor, to assist in reducing motorist speed and to raise awareness of the uneven road surface until repairs could be completed.

“These repairs have now been made at this location.

“All road users are advised to please drive to the conditions at all times, as network conditions can change.”

It would cost Jenkins $200-300 to repair his car as per his insurer, but he'd have to pay an excess of $500 and lose his no claims bonus.

Jenkins decided that it was not worthwhile to fix the car from the insurer because of the money he’d have to shell out on the excess.