A GROUP of angry car owners whose vehicles have been damaged by potholes on Mornington Peninsula roads want the state government to change the Road Management Act.
Under section 110 of the act road authorities such as municipalities are released from paying the first $1460 of damage caused by potholes and other road hazards, thereby invalidating most claims.
Car owner Louise Page says Mornington Peninsula Shire Council was too slow to fix a large pothole in Graydens Road, Hastings last November, and should cover the cost of repairs for the many vehicles that were damaged over several weeks. Her repair bill for damaged tyres was $1560, while some drivers had to pay up to $7000.
Page said making councils accountable would make sure they ensured the safety of the roads.
She said the pothole on Graydens Road was not visible until cars were driving into it, and that council should have been aware of that.
“Drivers couldn’t avoid it, you didn’t see it until you were on top of it,” Page said.
“And yet the council says it checks Graydens Road every week, so they should have known about it and should pay for the damage.”
Page has called for other car owners with damaged vehicles to come forward and join the fight for compensation.
She has started a petition calling on the state government to amend the Road Management Act threshold amount and invest in peninsula’s roads so they “better serve the community”.
One car owner posted on Facebook that potholes had destroyed four wheel rims over six months, while others said they were lucky to escape injury after their vehicles were plunged into ditches.
Nepean Ward councillor Susan Bissinger posted in a community Facebook page that she had sustained $6000 in damages to her car wheels and tyres on peninsula roads.
In July, the shire’s infrastructure services manager Tom Haines-Sutherland said wet weather over the past 12 months had seen the number of council road repairs increase by almost 1000.
Director of planning and infrastructure Mike McIntosh said while the shire understood the “frustration felt by motorists when their car is damaged by a pothole”, it only had an obligation to provide compensation when a clear legal liability was established.
“Council has a road management plan that sets out a program of road inspections and maintenance, with the frequency of the intervention depending on the function of the road and nature of defect reported,” he said.
“We repaired the pothole that was reported on Graydens Road in November 2021 within 24 hours, well within the seven-day timeframe. After we became aware the pothole had increased in size, we took appropriate action to address the hazard by arranging an afterhours crew to patch the pothole.
“Once a council complies with its obligations under the road management plan, it is not liable for any loss, and more so when such repair works are undertaken with the limited staffing and financial resources available to local governments.”
McIntosh urged residents to take care when driving on the roads during wet conditions.