Pothole breakdowns fall as Beast impact fades

15/01/2020
Chris Ames

The RAC attended significantly fewer breakdowns for pothole-related faults in 2019 than the previous year, despite a surge in the last quarter.

The motoring organisation released the analysis of breakdown data to coincide with National Pothole Day on Wednesday (15 January).

It said its patrols attended just short of 9,200 breakdowns for problems such as distorted wheels, broken suspensions springs and damaged shock absorbers last year, down from 13,000 in 2018.

The RAC pointed out that 2018 saw a dramatic increase in potholes following the ‘Beast from the East’ severe weather and that the 2019 figure still represented 1.1% of all breakdowns it attended during the year.

It added that it attended more than 2,000 breakdowns that are likely to be attributed to potholes in the final three months of 2019, which was 300 more than during the same period in 2018.

Between October and December, 0.9% of all breakdowns were for pothole-related faults, up from 0.8% in the previous three months and up from 0.8% in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: 'Our figures clearly show the problem of potholes has not gone away. Our patrols are still attending on average around one pothole-related breakdown every hour of the day.

'We anticipate the Government will pledge further funds to help cash-strapped councils mend potholes in the March Budget, but such pledges are only chipping away at the problem, and they’re unfortunately not addressing the root cause of why so much of the UK is still characterised by crumbling road surfaces.'

The RAC said its Pothole Index suggests the widespread problem of potholes and poor-quality roads remains as the Index currently stands at 1.7, down from 1.8 in the third quarter of 2019.

This means drivers are 1.7 times more likely to break down as a result of pothole-related damage than they were in 2006 when the RAC first started collecting data.

The motoring organisation describes the index as ‘an accurate long-term indicator of the health of the UK’s roads’.

It added that despite the relatively mild winter in the UK so far, it is concerned that the arrival of colder conditions in the next few months will likely trigger a widespread outbreak of more potholes, 'causing expensive damage to thousands of drivers’ vehicles and creating new road safety hazards'.

Cllr David Renard, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, said: Councils are on the side of all road users, fixing a pothole every 17 seconds, and want to work with government to tackle our national road repairs backlog, which will take more than £9bn and a decade to complete.

‘Providing councils with funding in the forthcoming Budget would mean they can invest in road maintenance and other infrastructure projects.’

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