New figures suggest the UK has seen an increase in pothole-related breakdowns, with around 10% more RAC members affected.
In total, the RAC’s index shows 2,830 individual members – up from 2,547 in 2016 – suffered a vehicle breakdown likely attributable to poor roads surfaces, including broken suspension springs, damaged shock absorbers or distorted wheels.
Across all quarters of 2017 the number of ‘pothole’ faults was up on the year before it, with RAC patrols attending 11% more callouts in the final three months of 2017 than it did over the same period in 2016. In this final period around 1.2% of all callouts was likely to have been pothole-related.
The RAC called for ‘ring-fenced, long-term funding’ for local authorities to improve the situation, as it suggested the country could be going backwards on its pothole problem.
The RAC’s chief engineer David Bizley said: ‘After several years in which the surface quality of our roads appeared to be improving, the latest analysis of RAC breakdown data suggests that for the third successive quarter we have gone backwards.
‘The higher rainfall in the last quarter compared to 2016 and the snowy and icy conditions that much of the country experienced into December are likely to be significant factors.’
He added: ‘We want to see local authorities given the certainty of ring-fenced, long-term funding from central government sufficient to enable local authorities to bring all of the UK’s roads up to a standard that is fit-for purpose.
‘Drivers contribute around £40bn of motoring based taxation a year and many will feel that they are having to endure roads that are substandard and therefore getting poor value for money.’
The RAC’s Pothole Index (below) is a 12-month rolling measure of the share of pothole fault breakdowns compared to 2006, corrected for seasonal weather effects and improving longer term vehicle reliability, has risen again for the third successive quarter.
Using a base of 1.00 established in 2006, the Index for the fourth quarter of 2017 stood at 2.59 – with the higher the figure, the greater the likelihood of an RAC member suffering a breakdown caused by a pothole and so potentially the worse the standard of some roads.
After falling over the previous 12 months to reach a low in first quarter of 2017, the Index is now at its highest since the second quarter of 2016 suggesting that the condition of our roads has been declining steadily over the last 18 months – although at 2.59 it is thankfully still well below its peak of 3.5 reached in Q2 2010.