Most motorists have encountered a pesky pothole during their driving experience, but these holes in the road can often be more dangerous and harmful than people may think, and it is about time that they were taken seriously.

Between October and December last year the RAC were called out to 2800 breakdowns caused by poorly maintained roads, which has increased year on year from 2500 during the same period in 2016, showing that they are up by more than 10%.

Potholes cause damage

Hitting a pothole can pose all kinds of problems to a vehicle, including damaging shock absorbers, breaking the suspension, and warping wheels, all of which cost the motorist a considerable amount of money to have repaired.

The RAC’s pothole index shows that road quality has steadily decreased over the past 18 months, and the number of potholes could increase by spring if Britain continues to experience cold or wet weather, which is practically guaranteed.

Although driving over a pothole is often scary and costly for those in cars, it can be life-threatening for cyclists or people riding motorbikes, and these damaged roads do put motorists at a severe risk which is why it is vital that the government and local councils do what they can to fix them. People are walking on roads, especially muddier ones can sprain ankles and worse because a pothole is deeper than appearances.

Potholes© Copyright Richard Webb and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Passing the blame

The issue here is that councils say that the government does not give them enough funding to repair roads, but the government argue that they are spending a record £23 billion on road repairs and that local councils are not allocating the funds in the right way.

The vast potholes on our roads seem to happen because local councils are prioritising larger, commuter roads when deciding where their funding should be spent. The amount spent on repairing local roads has dropped by 23% between 2011 and 2017 to £1.87 billion whereas spending on A roads has increased by around 20% to £1.43 billion.

However, local councils state that they are unable to carry out long-term repairs on their roads with the funding that is available to them, so they are having to complete short-term fixes instead which does not solve the overall problem, and are fixing a pothole every 9 seconds! The short-term fix does not work as the rain gets into the cracks and splits up the tarmac, covering the road in the rubble, making it even more treacherous than before.

The Local Government Association has made the point that motorways and major roads in England are receiving 52 times more funding per mile than local roads are, although local roads make up around 98% of the country’s network and boast a total distance of roughly a quarter of a million miles. Local roads are also where two-thirds of all journeys are made, so they do need looking after to keep road users safe.

Surrey is the worst for potholes

The LGA also stated that there is a £12 billion repair bill which could be paid over a decade, and suggests that an extra £1 billion per year is given to local councils to fix roads by allocating 2p from every litre of fuel duty to this particular cause.

One pothole horror story, which comes from Cranleigh in Surrey, sees residents on a particular road referring to the tarmac as ‘the moon’s surface’ because of how damaged and full of craters it is. The problem that they are having is that the council say it is a private road and not their responsibility, but the residents do not believe that they should be responsible for its maintenance, as the council provides housing for disabled residents along the road.

Reports released in the last few days show that Surrey has over 6700 unfixed potholes, over double the amount of any other council area. In data from the website Fill That Hole, which gets cyclists to record potholes as they are best placed, compiled by 24/7 Vehicle Rescue, the data showed an insurmountable number of potholes across Surrey, with Kent following at 3100. These figures show how sorry the state of our roads are in and the shocking condition that can harm so many people.

What next?

With roads like this becoming so damaged that they are negatively affecting people’s lives, it is undoubtedly time for the government to take the LGA’s advice and increase funding so that local roads can be fixed properly and not left to disintegrate. Fixing local roads will save motorists a lot of stress and money in the long run too.

What are the potholes like near you? Have you ever had to deal with insurance because of potholes? Let us know

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x