National Pothole Day arrived on Monday, with reports of increased damage to vehicles and warnings of worse to come, sparking new calls for preventative action – and cash.
Data released by the RAC to mark the third National Pothole Day showed a 24% rise in pothole-related breakdowns (4,903) attended by its patrols in the last quarter of 2016, up from 3,962 in the equivalent quarter of 2015.
The motoring organisation said that while the overall picture revealed by the RAC Pothole Index ‘is surprisingly one of improvement’, with the index having peaked in 2010, the latest rise ‘should be seen as a warning sign that the underlying condition of the UK’s roads is still very poor’.
RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: ‘If the first three months of 2017 prove to be both wet and cold, potholes are likely to appear at an unprecedented rate, which would inevitably stretch local authority repair resources to their limit.’
‘While urgent remedial repairs will be needed to reduce the risk of further vehicle damage or injury to road users, including vulnerable motorcyclists and cyclists, it is insufficient investment in preventative maintenance, such as resurfacing, which is ultimately to blame.
Alan Mackenzie, chairman, of the Asphalt Industry Alliance, said: ‘Potholes are a symptom of poorly maintained roads and can have serious consequences for road users. But spending money on fixing them, although essential, is a shameful waste. To stop potholes forming in the first place, cash-strapped local authorities need sufficient funds to look after our road network properly.’
Howard Robinson, chief executive of the Road Surface Treatments Association, said: ‘The evidence is there for all to see, and for tyres and axles to be damaged, despite the best efforts of councils in repairing over 2 million potholes last year. ‘
Last week the Department for Transport suggested that cash given to councils under its £250m Pothole Action Fund might be used to stop potholes forming in the first place, rather than merely fixing them.