RAC pothole-related breakdown calls reach five-year high
The number of vehicles being damaged by potholes has reached a five-year high.
RAC patrols have been called to more than 8,000 cases of cars being damaged by the road surface between April and June.
That number is the highest since 2018 when the Beast from the East plunged the UK into a deep freeze with heavy snowfall and treacherous road conditions.
The latest stats, says the RAC, lays bare ‘the poor condition of Britain’s local roads’.
Since the start of the year, the organisation says it has dealt with 18,250 breakdowns for damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs or distorted wheels most likely caused by defects in the road surface.
Freedom of Information requests by the RAC reveal that councils have had to hand over more than £11m in four years to drivers who have successfully claimed their vehicles had been damaged by a pothole.
While the cost of bringing the UK’s roads up to scratch has been put at a staggering £14 billion.
The RAC Pothole Index, which tracks pothole call-outs since 2006 seasonally adjusted for weather, calculates that drivers are now over 1.6 times more likely to break down due to the repeated wear caused by potholes than they were 17 years ago.
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “Drivers won’t be surprised to hear pothole-related breakdowns are at their highest level for five years due to several spells of well below-average temperatures interspersed with some very wet conditions last winter. These conditions led to water getting into cracks, freezing and expanding which caused road surfaces to deteriorate rapidly as vehicles drove over them.
“But despite these perfect pothole-forming conditions, it’s also important to note that last winter wasn’t particularly harsh which demonstrates very clearly just how fragile our local roads really are.
“The fact councils are paying out money to drivers whose vehicles suffered pothole damage is another damning indictment of the state of our roads. In an ideal world where roads are in a fit-for-purpose state they wouldn’t need to be doing this at all.”
Money for road repairs, said Mr Lyes has increased in the last few years but that councils faced a ‘toxic combination’ of higher material, labour and contractor costs alongside a recent wet winter. It may well be the case, he added, that while more money is being spent, much of it is being swallowed by inflation.
He added: “Of course, the elephant in the room is the amount of money available, which is why we continue to call on the Government to ring-fence 2p from every litre of existing fuel revenues over a five-year period which will give councils the certainty of funding they need to be able to plan proper maintenance programmes.”