Large rise in pothole-related breakdowns, RAC reports
Pothole-related breakdowns soared by almost a third between April and June compared with the same period last year, new figures show.
Some 3,565 owners of vehicles with broken suspension springs, damaged shock absorbers or distorted wheels - issues largely attributable to poor road surfaces - called the RAC in the second quarter of the year.
This is compared with just 2,725 over the same period in 2016.
The firm's pothole index, based on a 12-month rolling average of breakdown numbers, indicates that road quality is getting worse after five successive quarters of improvement.
RAC chief engineer David Bizley warned the figures demonstrate how a spell of extreme weather could result in road surfaces dramatically deteriorating even further.
He said: "After a period of steady improvement, it is disappointing to see an unwelcome rise in the number of pothole-related breakdowns.
"The most worrying aspect, however, is the fact that this year's weather has been so much milder and drier than in the equivalent six months last year and, for this reason, we should have expected the numbers for the second quarter to be lower.
"We fear it would only take a spell of very cold or wet weather for the improvements of the last year or two to evaporate and for the nation to find itself in a situation when we would once again be seeking emergency funding from Government to address the worst affected roads."
The annual road maintenance survey of the Asphalt Industry Alliance found that local authorities in England and Wales need over £12 billion of funding to bring the road network up to scratch.
This is several times more than councils' entire annual revenue spending on highways and transport, which was £4.4 billion in England last year.
Last month, the Department for Transport announced that councils will have access to a multi-billion pound fund to improve or replace the most important A-roads in their area.
Martin Tett, the Local Government Association's transport spokesman, said: "Councils are repairing a pothole at a rate of one every 19 seconds, but funding pressures mean the resources they have to carry out these essential road repairs are coming from an ever-dwindling pot.
"The recent Government announcement of additional funding to help improve our existing local roads is a step in the right direction. Councils now need long-term and consistent investment to bring our local roads up to scratch.
"Handing councils just two pence per litre from existing fuel duty to spend fixing our local roads would lead to an investment of £1 billion a year into vital repairs and maintenance."
A Department for Transport spokesman said: "It is vital councils keep our roads in a good condition to deliver better journeys for drivers.
"Nationally, we are providing councils more than £6 billion over six years to maintain roads and repair potholes.
"On top of this, we announced last autumn an additional £1.1 billion to upgrade and repair roads for communities across England.
"From 2020, we will also have a dedicated share from the National Road Fund to improve and maintain our major roads."