Government backs smartphone app to pinpoint potholes

24/12/2013
Highways Reporters

A smartphone app that allows users to report potholes has been revamped.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has pledged £30,000 to enable the Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC), the national cycling charity, to revamp its ‘Fill That Hole’ website and develop a new app compatible with smartphones running Android software.

More than nine million iPhone users can download the website’s current app to report potholed roads to their councils; the new app could boost that figure to over 26 million and is expected to be ready in February, at the start of ‘pothole season’ when the winter damage to roads is at its greatest.

Roads Minister Robert Goodwill said: “The government is serious about tackling potholes. At best they are an irritation but at worst they can damage vehicles and pose a serious danger to cyclists. That is why we want people to tell councils where to find them so they can fill them in. This app means more people are going to be able to report potholes more easily.

“Filling potholes in quickly is only one half of the story. Research has also shown a long-term approach to road maintenance, rather than patch and mend, can save councils and taxpayers money and potentially save lives thanks to better road conditions.”

CTC originally developed its app for cyclists, who can receive life-changing injuries from accidents caused by potholes, but it is now used by all types of road user, from delivery drivers to motorists concerned about potential damage to their vehicle.

The app sends local authorities up-to-the-minute information about potholes which the council may not otherwise know about, allowing them to identify trouble spots needing action fast. In the past year around £23.8m was paid in compensation by local authorities across England due to the poor condition of their roads according to the Asphalt Industry Alliance.

The support for the app comes as more local authorities adopt new government guidelines which urge councils to plan extensive maintenance well in advance, rather than years of costly ‘patching’ as potholes appear – saving the taxpayer money.

CTC chief executive Gordon Seabright said: “CTC has been working to ensure roads are safe for cycling since our foundation in 1878. We are delighted to have the government’s support for our ‘Fill That Hole’ website and app, which are already highly effective ways for road users to get potholes filled.

“This partnership with the Department for Transport will enable us to provide this free service to far more cyclists and other road users. It’s also a great example of CTC and the government working together to get Britain cycling.”
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