Pothole call-outs up but drivers 'dodge bullet'

23/04/2024
Chris Ames

The RAC attended nearly 8,000 pothole-related breakdowns in the first quarter of 2024, up 53% on the previous quarter, ‘a clear sign that the UK is suffering a pothole epidemic’.

Annual pothole-related breakdowns – damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs and distorted wheels – were up by 10% at 27,205 in the year ending March 2024, compared to 24,906 incidents in the previous year.

However, the motoring organisation said drivers may have ‘dodged the pothole bullet’ because of relatively mild weather in what is normally the worst three months of the year.

The first quarter total of 7,904 call-outs was down from 10,076 during the first quarter of 2023.

While rainfall was 22% higher than normal, there were only seven days of frost, against the usual average of nine. Sub-zero temperatures usually cause more deterioration as water gets into cracks, freezes and expands.

RAC head of policy Simon Williams said: ‘While our data shows pothole damage to vehicles in the first three months of this year is lower than it was in the same period in 2023, it’s important not to lose sight of the bigger picture and the ongoing miserable state of our roads. The analysis clearly shows drivers are now twice as likely to suffer a breakdown due to sub-standard road surfaces as they were in 2006.

‘Even though the Government has given councils an additional £8.3bn for road maintenance from the cancellation of the northern leg of HS2, we know this is only enough to resurface 5,000 miles of roads – the equivalent of just 3% of all England’s local roads.

‘To make the most of this funding, we implore local authorities to focus their efforts on resurfacing the worst roads in their areas rather than pointlessly trying to patch pothole-ridden roads that can’t be saved from further decline.’

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