RAC call outs double for pothole-related damage

The proportion of vehicle breakdowns caused by pothole-related damage has more than doubled over the past decade, according to a new study.

Thousands of motorists require assistance each month for issues such as broken shock absorbers or faulty suspension springs, the RAC said.

In the 12 months to June, some 0.9% of its 2.4 million breakdown call outs were due to such damage - compared to just 0.4% over the same period to June 2006.

The figures show there was a sudden rise in pothole damage between 2007 and 2009, when the proportion of incidents rose from 0.5% to 1.1%.

RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: "The condition of our local roads has deteriorated drastically in the last decade.

"This analysis suggests that the quality of the UK's roads suffered a steady decline from the start of 2007 through to the end of 2009, presumably due to lack of investment in maintenance and resurfacing during worsening economic times.

"Since then, injections of short-term funding have addressed the immediate aftermath of periods of extreme weather but have not been sufficient to tackle the underlying problem."

Councillor Peter Box, transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, said councils are fixing more potholes than ever before but they are "hamstrung by a huge disparity in funding".

The LGA claimed the Government has earmarked more than 40 times more money per mile of motorways and major trunk roads in England than it has for local roads.

The Asphalt Industry Alliance estimates that it will cost £11.8 billion and take 14 years to fix roads in England and Wales.

Earlier this year, the Government announced the first allocation of a £250 million-a-year funding boost to remove potholes.

Nearly one million potholes are being repaired in England over 12 months through the pothole action fund, according to the Department for Transport (DfT).

Local authorities in the South West are getting the most money at £8.4 million, with the North East receiving the least at £3 million.

A DfT spokesman said: "Well-maintained local roads are incredibly important, to deliver better journeys and keep communities across the country moving and connected.

"We have committed £6 billion to councils in England over this parliament to improve local roads and through the pothole action fund, we will spend a further £250 million over the next five years specifically to tackle the blight of potholes."