Highway authorities: what are their duties, rights and responsibilities?
The local highways are usually managed by the local council and it is their responsibility to maintain the condition of the roads in the area. The 1980 Highways Act states that the roads must be kept in an adequate condition for use and be safe for all road users.
Different areas run their local authorities in different ways. In most regions, county councils will manage the highways, but in other areas, the district council, community council or parish council will have the responsibility. In London, it is the borough council, or Transport for London, who manage the roads.
The role of the highway authority is not to improve the roads, but to ensure that they are maintained to the required standard for the local residents and those travelling into the area.
It is the role of the highway authority to ensure the roads in their area are safe and hazard free. It also makes sure that signage is appropriate if there are any dangers, and oversees ongoing repairs or maintenance. Another responsibility is to prepare roads and pavements adequately for harsh weather conditions such as ice and snow in the winter months and to monitor the volume of traffic and check the roads are adequate.
Evidence that these criteria have been met will need to be kept and may be requested in the case of any accidents.
Drivers should also take responsibility for safety, and businesses which own commercial vehicles should look at investing in Chapter 8 Chevrons from companies such as https://www.vehiclechevrons.com/.
One of the most common complaints from drivers is potholes, which can cause hundreds of pounds worth of damage to vehicles and result in drivers making claims against their local highways agency for compensation. A recent survey revealed Surrey as the worst area for potholes, with more than 9,000 reported during 2017/18.
If a person is involved in an accident and believes the state of the road or pavement is to blame, then they may claim for compensation. The claim needs to be made within three years of the incident, or within three years of turning 18, if the claimant is under 18 at the time.
Legal advice should be sought in these circumstances and making a claim should not incur any costs to the victim.