Bumpy road for pothole repairs

The RAC reported a 24% increase in the number of potential pothole related call-outs in the fourth quarter of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015.

This includes damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs and distorted wheels. The figures do not include punctures though, which is a common result of potholes.

The general trend has actually been going down in recent years, although the RAC says the condition of UK’s roads is still very poor.

RAC chief engineer David Bizley said, ‘This is a particularly worrying finding because of course much of the country has not experienced harsh winter conditions for three years and rainfall in the fourth quarter of 2016 was the lowest in that period for more than a decade. Rain can be the catalyst for the formation of potholes, particularly in the winter when frosts are also common but despite the low rainfall the number of pothole faults attended by RAC in Q4 2016 is still higher than in the same period in the two previous years.

‘If the first three months of 2017 prove to be both wet and cold, potholes are likely to appear at an unprecedented rate which would inevitably stretch local authority repair resources to their limit. While urgent remedial repairs will be needed to reduce the risk of further vehicle damage or injury to road users, including vulnerable motorcyclists and cyclists, it is insufficient investment in preventative maintenance, such as resurfacing, which is ultimately to blame.’

Research for the RAC’s latest Report on Motoring found that the state and maintenance of local roads was the number-one concern identified by the 1,755 motorists surveyed, with 14% listing it as their top concern. In addition, the report also found that half of motorists (51%) believe the state of the roads in their area worsened over the past 12 months, with the preponderance of potholes by far the main culprit. This compared to just nine per cent who said their local roads had in fact improved.

David added, ‘This is not really surprising given that the last analysis published by the Department for Transport’s suggested that there was a backlog of up to £8.6bn in local road maintenance in England, and analysis from the Asphalt Industry Alliance’s Local Authority Road Maintenance Report suggesting the one-time catch-up cost may be even greater at £11.1bn.’