Pothole crisis deepens

Pothole-related breakdowns are at their highest level in five years, according to the RAC.

It attended more pothole breakdowns in the second quarter of this year than at any time since before the pandemic.

The 8,100 pothole-related breakdowns recorded in the second quarter is the highest the RAC has since the ‘Beast from the East’ cold snap plunged much of the UK into a deep freeze with heavy snowfall five years ago.

Meanwhile, since the start of 2023 it has dealt with 18,250 breakdowns for damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs or distorted wheels – the call-outs which are most likely caused by defective road surfaces.

The figures show that 27,250 breakdowns occurred in the 12 months up to 30 June 2023 where vehicles had been damaged by a pothole, compared to 22,800 over the same period in 2022 – a 20% increase – while drivers are now over 1.6 times more likely to break down due to the repeated wear caused by potholes than they were 17 years ago.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “Drivers won’t be surprised to hear pothole-related breakdowns are at their highest level for five years due to several spells of well below-average temperatures interspersed with some very wet conditions last winter.

“These conditions led to water getting into cracks, freezing and expanding which caused road surfaces to deteriorate rapidly as vehicles drove over them. But despite these perfect pothole-forming conditions, it’s also important to note that last winter wasn’t particularly harsh which demonstrates very clearly just how fragile our local roads really are.

“The fact councils are paying out money to drivers whose vehicles suffered pothole damage is another damning indictment of the state of our roads. In an ideal world where roads are in a fit-for-purpose state they wouldn’t need to be doing this at all.”