As we have seen, making use of certain driving strategies can make it significantly less likely that you will be one of the third of drivers to suffer damage from potholes in the last two years*. Nevertheless, on many of the worst roads it is effectively impossible for a driver to make progress without undergoing some bumps and jolts over the pitted asphalt.
Therefore, even the most careful motorists face a small chance of suffering structural damage to their vehicle at some point. If this should happen to you, then it is again useful to remember the three "Ps" of Poise, Perception and Preparation – so that you have both the right equipment and mental fortitude to react in an effective manner.
The violent jolting sensation of passing over a large or deep pothole is a very unpleasant one. It can be difficult to believe that your vehicle has not sustained damage (even when no harm has been done, at least in the short-term). It is, however, important to remain calm and keep both hands on the wheel, preventing a loss of control. Your first priority is the safety of yourself and others – so turn on your hazard lights to warn other road users in the vicinity that your vehicle may be in trouble.
Once you are sure that your car is under control, start scanning the road for a safe place to stop and inspect your car for damage. Listen carefully for rattling or other unusual noises, and note if the steering seems sluggish or vague – this could indicate a flat tyre or faulty wheel alignment, which may alter your assessment of whether your vehicle can make it home without attention.
As ever, it is best to be cautious. If there is any suspicion that your vehicle could have something significantly wrong with it, find the first safe place to pull over and check for a flat tyre, bulges in the sidewall of your tyres, damaged hubcaps, or leaks which could indicate damage to your car or van's undercarriage. In the event of losing a vehicle part, such as a hubcap, you should recover it from the road only if it is safe to do so (e.g. on a residential or very quiet road, and never on the motorway)
Rules 274-278 of the Highway Code ( https://www.gov.uk/breakdowns-and-incidents-274-to-287/breakdowns-274, https://www.gov.uk/breakdowns-and-incidents-274-to-287/additional-rules-for-motorways-275-to-278 ) provide guidance on the best course of action if you doubt your vehicle can reach its destination.
It is then important to take your car or van to a professional (preferably a manufacturer-approved garage) at the first available opportunity, so that you have to travel in a suspect vehicle for as short a time as possible.
*According to an AA/Populus survey of 23,000 motorists, March 2013.