Drivers ‘twice as likely’ to break down due to potholes than 12 years ago

Drivers are more than twice as likely to break down due to hitting a pothole than 12 years ago, according to new research.

In the 12 months to the end of September, RAC patrols attended 14,220 breakdowns likely caused by potholes, including incidents with damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs and distorted wheels.

The firm’s Pothole Index – which is a long-term indicator of the health of the UK’s roads – stands at 2.63, meaning drivers are more than 2.5 times as likely to suffer a pothole breakdown than they were in 2006.

The Asphalt Industry Alliance warns that one in five local roads in England and Wales is in a poor condition and the frequency of road resurfacing has declined.

A recent RAC survey of 1,808 motorists found that the state of local roads is now their top overall concern, up from 33% in 2017 to 42% in 2018.

Some two-thirds (66%) of those polled said the condition of local roads had deteriorated in the past 12 months.


RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “There is little doubt local road conditions in many parts of the country are substandard and have been so for quite some time.

“Data from this quarter’s RAC Pothole Index supports this, showing there has been a steady deterioration in road condition over the last 18 months with the latest quarter not showing a significant improvement.

“We cannot simply blame Storm Emma and the Beast from the East, even though they certainly made matters worse.”

Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, said: “Keeping roads safe for all users is one of the most important jobs councils do and is reflected in the fact that local authorities are fixing a pothole every 21 seconds.

“However, only long-term, consistent and fairer government investment in local road maintenance can allow councils to embark on the widespread improvement of our roads that is desperately needed.

“Spending 52 times more on maintaining our national roads when very few journeys begin and end on a motorway or trunk road will only serve to help motorists reach increased delays and congestion on local roads more quickly.”

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “We are already providing councils in England with over £6 billion to help improve the condition of our local highways.

“This funding includes a record £296 million through the Pothole Action Fund – enough to fix around six million potholes.

“While it is for councils to identify where repairs should be undertaken, we are looking at how innovative technology can help them keep their roads in the best condition and save money.”