The RAC has blamed the recent bad weather for a rise in the proportion of pothole-related breakdowns in the first three months of the year but warned that the full extent of the problem remains to be seen.
The motoring organisation said the percentage of RAC breakdowns likely to be attributed to damage caused by potholes and poor quality road surfaces, such as damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs or distorted wheels doubled to 2.3% in the first quarter of 2018 from 1.2% in the last quarter of 2017.
This percentage was the third highest recorded since 2006 when tracking of such faults started.
The RAC added that while the sheer volume of ‘pothole breakdowns’ was not as high as might have been expected considering the severity of the cold weather, it expects the second quarter of the year to be a better indicator of the true state of the country’s roads.
Chief engineer David Bizley said: ‘While RAC patrols saw the third highest quarterly share of pothole-related breakdowns in the first three months of 2018 the figure was not as high as we had been expecting, probably due the fact that the weather hit relatively late in the quarter. For this reason we feel we are likely to see more vehicles suffering pothole damage in the second quarter of 2018 compared with recent years.
'The start of the year normally sees the highest number of breakdowns attributable to poor quality road surfaces, but more telling will be how much this drops in the second quarter. Ever since we started analysing these faults, this second quarter figure has dropped sharply as local authorities catch up with repairs to address the worst damage to their roads caused by winter weather.’
Cllr Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, said: ‘When exceptional weather occurs, the impact on local roads can be significant, and it’s essential this is measured and that funds are provided for serious repairs, so that traffic can move freely through our communities and local economies and businesses aren’t impacted.
‘Councils are likely to need more support from the Government as the full extent of the repairs needed after the recent winter weather has been made known, and we hope that the Government will stand ready to provide this.
‘Councils ultimately need the Government to deliver a long-term, sustainable funding solution for our local roads that can boost local economies and deliver for our communities.'
Both organisations repeated their calls for a proportion of fuel duty to be given to councils for local road maintenance to tackle the £9.3bn repairs backlog identified in the latest ALARM survey.