William Eichler 12 October 2018

Potholes ‘wreak havoc’ with drivers

A lack of sufficient funding to maintain local roads means potholes are ‘wreaking havoc’ with drivers, motoring body says.

The RAC says that the number of call-outs the organisation has received this year for pothole-related issues remains ‘stubbornly high.’

Over the last 12 months the RAC dealt with 14,220 breakdowns where the ‘overwhelming likelihood’ was that they were caused by potholes.

This represents 1.5% of all its call-outs during this period and is the second highest percentage ever recorded since the RAC started analysing this data in 2006.

The motoring body’s Pothole Index also shows that motorists are now more than 2.5 times as likely to suffer a pothole breakdown than they were 12 years ago.

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

‘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.’

Mr Bizley acknowledged that the Government had attempted to address the problem of deteriorating local roads with a £100m funding boost in March this year.

However, he said this had to be seen in the context of a maintenance backlog of over £9.3bn.

‘We need a 10-year plan with ring-fenced funding that will eliminate the backlog of preventative maintenance that will stop the plague of potholes appearing every time there is bad weather,’ he said.

Responding to the RAC’s findings, Cllr Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s (LGA) 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.’

Cllr Tett noted that central Government spends 52 times more on maintaining national roads than they do on local roads, where journeys begin and end.

He also repeated the LGA’s call on the Government to annually reinvest a portion of existing fuel duty into local road maintenance.

This would ‘generate much needed funding for councils to spend on addressing the £9.3bn roads repair backlog which would give all road users better roads that are safer and more resilient to potholes,' he said.

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