Councils have asked for additional government funding to provide long-term road maintenance funding, after data from the RAC showed that weather conditions caused the third-highest proportion of pothole-related breakdowns in 12 years this winter.
The RAC’s analysis of call outs highlights that Britain’s damaged roads were blamed for 2.3% of all breakdowns during the first three months of 2018. Only twice, in the first quarters of 2015 and 2017, has this statistic been higher, at 2.6% and 2.7% respectively.
Breakdowns due to potholes are usually the result of damaged shock absorbers, broken suspensions springs or distorted wheels.
David Bizley, RAC's Chief Engineer, said that these figures are likely to worsen for the second quarter of the year following the harsh weather conditions we experienced in February and March, which saw episodes of snow, storms and freezing rain.
Bizley said, “Anecdotally, few would argue that the harsh cold weather experienced over the last three months has led to a further deterioration of road surfaces. While RAC patrols saw the third highest quarterly share of pothole-related breakdowns in the first three months of 2018 the figure was not as high as we had been expecting, probably due the fact that the weather hit relatively late in the quarter. For this reason, we feel we are likely to see more vehicles suffering pothole damage in the second quarter of 2018 compared with recent years.”
The RAC’s 12 month rolling Pothole Index has worsened for its fourth consecutive quarter, having risen from 2.03, in the first quarter of 2017, to 2.63 in first quarter of 2018. Although, this is still better than the beginning of 2010 when the Index was registered at 3.5.
The motoring organisation has urged the government to increase council funding to repair the damaged roads, both to help with the effects of the poor weather recently, as well as long-term funding.
Bizley added “We are calling for ring-fencing of additional long-term funding to provide the money needed to bring our local roads back to a condition that is fit-for-purpose over a period of five to 10 years. For example, ring-fencing 3p for local road maintenance from the 58p fuel duty paid by motorists on every litre of fuel purchased over seven years would give councils raise an extra £9.5bn – enough, according to the recent survey of councils conducted by the Asphalt Industry Alliance, to eliminate the maintenance backlog on roads in England and Wales. Drivers contribute in excess of £40bn in motoring taxation a year and many feel they should not have to endure substandard roads as a result.”
As representatives of councils in England and Wales, the Local Government Association (LGA) has also called for ‘more support’ from the government for councils to help with road maintenance.
Although the government has pledged £100 million in emergency funding, the LGA’s transport spokesman, Councillor Martin Tett, reiterated that a long-term solution was required, “When exceptional weather occurs, the impact on local roads can be significant. It’s essential this is measured and that funds are provided for serious repairs, so that traffic can move freely through our communities and local economies and businesses aren’t impacted. Councils are likely to need more support from the government as the full extent of the repairs needed after the recent winter weather has been made known, and we hope that the government will stand ready to provide this. Ultimately councils need a long-term, sustainable funding solution for our local roads that can boost local economies and deliver for our communities.”