Despite mild and dry winter conditions, the RAC says that it attended 63% more pothole-related breakdowns in the first quarter of 2017 than they did in 2016.
This means that the RAC dealt with more than 6,500 pothole breakdowns between January and March this year that were all likely to be caused by poor road surfaces. Broken suspension springs, damaged shock absorbers and distorted wheels were all among the damage caused to cars by the crumbling roads.
This figure is still down from 2015, where almost 7,000 people required assistance due to similar problems, but that quarter saw more frost days and rainfall that this year.
The fact that the RAC were expecting a reduction in pothole-related accidents this year suggests that the condition of UK’s roads are teetering on the edge of falling in to a state of disrepair. Just one season of cold and wet weather could be enough to cause further damage, offsetting any recent improvements and making the roads worse than ever.
The RAC Pothole Index (pictured above) shows the RAC’s analysis of each quarter since 2006, and it does offer a glimmer of hope for road users in that it shows improvements even with this unexpected flurry of accidents this year so far. The overall quality of the UK’s road surfaces is getting better, though still short of their condition a decade ago according to the Index.
“As a nation, we still have a long way to go to ensure the whole road network is really fit for purpose.”
DAVID BIZLEY – RAC CHIEF ENGINEER
In a recent survey with the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), data showed that the slow improvement shown in the RAC Pothole Index is a result of a combination of favourable weather and the dedicated pothole repair funding from the central government.
AIA data shows that most local authorities simply can’t afford the costs needed to catch up with the backlog of preventative maintenance that would stop potholes forming in the first place. This means that it would only take a short period of severe weather to bring local roads back to the extremely poor conditions that they were in just a few years ago.
RAC Chief Engineer, David Bizley, said: “Our figures sadly show a surprising and unwelcome first quarter rise in the number of breakdowns where the poor quality of the road surface was a major factor.” He continued, “As a nation, we still have a long way to go to ensure the whole road network – not just our major roads, which are enjoying one of the largest investment programmes in a generation – is really fit for purpose.”