UK motorists driven potty by potholes

The RAC has marked National Pothole Day by reporting a worrying 24% year-on-year increase in pothole call-outs in the UK.

Its patrols responded to 25,487 pothole-related calls last year, a rise of more than 5,000 on 2014 figures. That equates to nearly one new call-out every 20 minutes, all day, every day.

The largest increase was for damaged suspension springs, which rose 42% from 13,101 in 2014 to 18,417 last year.

There was also a 10% rise in damaged wishbones and a 10% rise in faults with the vehicle subframes.

RAC chief engineer David Bizley said, ‘Potholes can wreak havoc with vehicles and are therefore understandably hated by motorists. It is very worrying that our patrols have dealt with more pothole-related breakdowns in 2015 than they did the year before because we did not experience a particularly cold winter in either year.

‘We know that a number of local authorities increased their spending in 2015 to try to catch up with some of the road maintenance and repair backlog, but this evidence indicates that there is still some way to go.

‘In the absence of freezing conditions, which are a major cause of potholes, this suggests that some highways authorities are still losing the pothole-repair fight. We shall only win the battle once sufficient preventative road surface maintenance is undertaken to prevent potholes appearing when the first bad weather arrives.

‘On top of the £6bn already promised, the Chancellor made available further funds in the Autumn Statement and while this is still not enough to meet the shortfall, it may hopefully mean we will see a decline in ‘pothole generated breakdowns’ this time next year.’

The latest RAC Report on Motoring found that half of motorists questioned said the state of roads had deteriorated in the last 12 months, with 10% citing potholes as their chief worry.

Meanwhile, managing director of LeasePlan Matt Dyer questioned whether there was the budget to address the issue in the long-term, despite the government pledging a permanent pothole fund.

He said, ‘Even though it’s welcome, we might ask whether this extra five billion pounds and permanent pothole fund is enough. According to local authorities last year, it will take another £10.5 billion to fill in every single pothole.

‘It’s also that filling in potholes is no substitute for modernising Britain’s road network. Part of the reason why there are so many potholes in the first place is because the roads are aged and decrepit.’