A council has told motorists that they have to measure potholes if they want them be fixed.
Drivers in Stockport, Greater Manchester, are also being ordered to take photographs of the offending crevice.
But the prospect of drivers crouching in the middle of the road to gather the information required by Stockport horrified motoring organisations.
“This could be very dangerous,” said Andrew Howard, the AA’s head of road safety.
When we ask our members to measure potholes, we give clear safety instructions.
“We don’t want people walking out in the middle of the road poking rulers into crevices and taking pictures.
“Sometimes you just have to accept people’s word.
“With the compensation culture some motorists looking for a big cheque might take ridiculous claims to gather information for a claim.”
“The downside may come from residents exaggerating the depth and width of potholes to jump the queue on inspections and repairs.
“An alternative may be to ask the local councillor to take a look and stop the authority digging itself into deeper trouble.”
The instructions to motorists are contained on the council’s website, it is understood that the same advice is given by the local authority’s hotline.
It is understood that only holes deeper than 1.5 inches will be considered for repair.
Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, was also appalled by Stockport’s initiative.
“Expecting drivers to hit the streets armed with tape measures and cameras is perhaps taking civic responsibility too far.
“Surely if it looks like a pothole, feels like a pothole when you drive over it and damages your car like a pothole, then it is a pothole?
“If residents have taken the time and trouble to report a problem then that should be enough to warrant investigation. The best solution would be for councils to maintain their roads adequately before the need to complain arises.”
Potholes remain a sensitive issue even though the Government is giving councils nearly £1 billion for road maintenance and repair this year.
With budgets under pressure local authorities are still cutting back.
Last year councils paid out £47 million in damages to motorists whose cars were damaged by potholes.
According to the AA there were 1.7 million complaints by drivers.
However earlier this month Hamilton Bland, a former BBC sports commentator, won £3,500 in damages from Coventry City Council for damage caused to his Mercedes by an unrepaired pothole.
Iain Roberts, Executive Member for Transportation at Stockport Council, defended the authority’s approach.
“We ask callers whether they think the pothole is a hazard to motorists or a trip hazard to pedestrians. Many residents choose to give us extra information about potholes they've spotted, but that's never been a requirement – we check all potholes reported to us.
"We take a planned approach to our work on the highway, and want to obtain the best value for money and fix the largest number of potholes we can within resources.
“Our inspection policy sets out the criteria the Council uses when checking for defects and our response time, with most urgent repairs being made safe by the end of the next working day.”
Norman Baker, the local transport minister, added: "It is not for the Department for Transport to tell Stockport Council how to sort out its potholes."
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