The hazards potholes create are well-known to motorists and cyclists; damage to your car or bike and an uncomfortable or dangerous ride. More worrying is potholes have resulted in serious injury or death of almost 400 cyclists over the past ten years. Now, the results of two surveys show the sheer scale of the pothole issue we have on our roads.
The Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) and Kwik Fit each published findings which, together, highlight both the condition of — and the harm caused by — the state of our road surfaces.
Road to recovery
The AIA’s Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey shows that pothole repairs in England and Wales rose by 330,000 in 2018 to a staggering 1.86million. In fact, councils are fixing a pothole every 17 seconds with last year’s freezing weather much to blame for the decline of the roads.
But there’s hope for improvement as the Department for Transport gives councils over £200million for road repairs, to fix over 1,000 miles of highway — with £50million reserved for potholes and flood measures.
Research into advanced surface materials and reconstruction techniques will continue, such as an asphalt three-dimensional printer researchers at University College London designed to repair road cracks and potholes.
Over six million vehicles suffered damage from potholes with an average garage bill of £108.60 but the ALARM survey shows that motorists in England and Wales have only received £13.5million in compensation—just 2.1% of the total loss.
Kwik Fit’s study on potholes showed that the number of us affected in 2018 increased by 2.9 million to over 11 million. The most common damage is to a vehicle’s steering, suspension, and wheels.
In the last twelve months, 31% of motorists who hit a pothole said they thought it was a puddle because water hid it, 46% said they risked colliding with other traffic if they had swerved around the pothole and 4% admitted they hit a pothole because they were speeding.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, who claims the Government is ‘continuing to step up its funding to local authorities’ for pothole repairs said:
“It is now up to highways authorities to innovate and use new technologies to solve the problem.”
Mr Grayling has launched a consultation on increasing the guarantee on utility firms’ roadworks so that if a pothole forms within five years, the company must bring the road surface back to normal.
“Road surfaces can be made worse by utility companies, so imposing higher standards on repairs will help keep roads pothole-free for longer,” said the Transport Secretary.
Last year the AIA claimed it would cost £1.5billion more in funding each year, for the next 10 years, for repairs on local roads to reach a condition whereby they would be cost-effective to manage.
AIA Chairman Rick Green reacted to the news of more government funding:
“It is encouraging that those in control of the purse strings seem to have recognised the value that additional expenditure on roads can deliver. But it’s clear from the 29% increase in the number of potholes filled in England … that much of this has been used for patch and mend [work].
“This doesn’t provide value for money, nor will it improve the underlying structure and resilience of our roads,” he said.
There are steps you can take to both reduce your chances of hitting a pothole and to reduce the damage to your vehicle if run over one:
Check your tyres are at the recommended air pressure because if they’re under or over-inflated, your car is more likely to sustain pothole damage.
Consider winter tyres if you live in an area affected by lots of potholes. The sides of the tyres are often a little larger, and able to absorb the impact that driving into a pothole can cause.
Rain pools in potholes so try to avoid puddles where you can. Drive with caution if dodging a puddle isn’t possible.
Reduce your speed if you’re on a bumpy stretch of road. The faster you’re driving when you hit a pothole, the more damage you should expect.
Potholes can sometimes cause drivers to lose control of their vehicle, so keep your hands at the ‘ten to two’ position on the wheel to stay in command of your car.
If you hit a pothole, stop in a safe place and assess the damage as soon as possible.
Sometimes pothole damage won’t appear obvious straight away, so keep checking your tyres and wheels in the days afterwards. Get the vehicle checked out at your first opportunity if you think your car has suffered damage.
Do your bit by reporting potholes; don’t assume others have reported them and if you want to make a claim, this website will tell you all you need to know.
What condition are the roads where you drive or ride? Have they damaged your bike or car? Have poor roads caused you an injury? Tell us in the comments.
Why not use the £80+ BILLION projected cost of HS2 on the road network instead? The total cost of repairing every pothole, saving
an estimated 400+ lives over the next ten years is a minute fraction of this £80+ billion. The remainder would go a long way to
help upgrade the UK’s existing roads, which is badly needed. There would be far more economic benefit to the country by doing
that, rather than the stupendous outlay for the HS2 vanity project which will give virtually no economic return on the outlay.
But of course , every UK Government is, and has been against road transport, even though it is essential for the movement of goods
and people. No rail system can ever get anywhere near to replacing this.
I find 99.9% of pothole repairs are done incometently by replacing the hole with a bump and of course the filling comes away as loose slippery gravel within months if not weeks. What we need is complete & proper resurfacing on A & B roads.
If you ride a motobike, hitting those bumps is as dangeorous as the potfhole before.
The services companies are 50% to blame as they constantly dig up and leave undulating, below standard and bumpy surface behind. They should not be allowed to dig or resurface; instead pay the Highway agencywho should do all road repairs and resurfacing. At least there is a better chance to control the standard
Ray is spot on; we see the same here in Glos. The companies charged with maintaining roads have a vested interest in making shoddy repairs. I would pay 50% on completion with the balance after 12 months, but only if the repair holds good.
Give them a fighting chance Charles…. lets say 2 weeks…. I have seen repairs fall apart within this timescale.
Indeed, I used to work as a project manager and always used to insist that contractors provided an insurance backed guarantee to cover any premature failure of their work. Cost more but cheaper in the rhe long run.
Local councils should be forced to do the same to ensure value for the taxpayer.
Where I live in a London borough, potholes have just been patched and the contractors left holes against the repaired ones. Sent the photos to the council, they were not interested. Someones making loads of money.
The services companies do a temporary repair and then pay Councils huge sums to do the job properly.
However most councils then use that money for other purposes
What nonsense, governments continue to over prioritise road transport- but I entirely agree re HS2
This is just typical of our country to be fair, we built and developed one of the best railway systems in the world and then expected it to magically look after itself, Amazed at the fact it didn’t so we sold it off to the privateers to sort it out.
Roads are following the same ilk! we build them, possible one of the better road systems in the world and do what? it’s back to the maintenance fairies again to repair them properly we’ll just chuck a bit of stone in the hole and wack a bit of tarmac on top until they get around to it.
You want to read the other article on here, apparently there’s a 416% uplift in speeding…. WHERE? must be local parks where the grass is smother than the road surface and cycle tracks as it can’t be on local roads to many holes to swerve around.
A large part of the problem is out-sourcing of the work. When councils did it with in house staff they had a vested interest in doing a good job that would last longer. Companies to whom the work is out-sourced have a vested interest in doing it just well enough to last to the next financial year.
In my County they are boasting they have £20m extra for potholes over next 2 years from Government.
Unfortunately, they’ve been getting £100m per year for the past 5 years.
So in fact, the new funding is HALF what they’ve been getting.
Even more is that they have hardly made any impact on the shedule of potholes for repair; they are reported quicker than they are repaired!
38 Billion pounds taken in road tax annually. Is it really value for money considering how much is spent on repairing destructive Road surfaces?
There is no such thing as road tax, and hasn’t been for decades. What we pay is vehicle excise duty, otherwise known as car tax, simply a tax that allows you to have your car on the road.
Abe, your the problem with this country, you should be an MP. It’s not road tax, it’s a tax that allows you to have a car on the road! Classic. It’s not income tax, its money government take off your income every week!
No it’s a tax to pay for everything except roads.
Well darrr! it is the same dam thing. Do you even know what you just wrote? Just because they changed the name of it doesn’t mean its a different tax. We pay for the wright to be on the roads so we should be able to drive on in safety and in comfort. What’s the point otherwise
Road Tax hasn’t existed for Years. Its now cleverly called Vehicle Excise Duty. Therefore, we cant claim 38 Billion should be spent on repairing roads.
I agree that incompetent repairing of potholes, or just one of the three very close by as ‘that’s all my job sheet authorises’ is ridiculous. The council should check the,quality of the work and if the hole is back within six months, get the contractors back, as no cost to the council.
I wonder if a Freedom of Info request to all insurers would show how many near misses and accidents are now caused as we constantly have to look out for potholes, defective road surfaces etc rather than other road users?
Here in Rochdale its on record one of our councillors (Who by the way gave themselves a 34% rise in expenses) openly stated if you dont vote for “labour” then you dont get your pot holes fixed… So if we dont vote for a labour council, the roads go unrepaired.. if we do vote for a labour council, the roads still go unrepaired anyway!!!
Under labour our roads are worse. Our borough has gone down hill fast.
Councils need to be educated on how to repair potholes correctly. They do not cut out the affected area, they do not put tar into the base of the repair and then they pat the new tarmac down with a shovel or a weighted stick.What a waste of time and money.
They need to remove the councils from the road management act they just abuse so they can give more parking tickets
Repairing roads is a classic Stitch in time job, just like car maintenance. Sadly, over too many years, councils have diverted money from road repairs to other causes and this has led to the current dreadful state of our roads. A reasonably manageable operation has become a multi-billion nightmare.
I wonder whether there is any data to show increased claims for windscreen repair due to cars being hit by the stones lying around as potholes degrade.
One cause of road decline which receives no publicity is multi-axled heavy vehicles and trailers, particularly if the axles are fixed, as opposed to steerable. As they go round corners, the tyres are dragged sideways over the surface. They are like giant heavy rubbers, scraping off the road surface and leaving a little rubber in its place. Such vehicles should be hit with a very heavy tax to encourage hauliers to buy the more expensive steerable axled vehicles which should be relatively lightly taxed. A steerable axle causes less resistance on corners and therefore reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. They also cause less tyre wear.
Most of the rural roads in my part of the world (East Anglia) are showing signs of complete structural failure. The potholes that result can be filled and patched until kingdom come but they will reappear after a year or two. These roads need full-depth reconstruction and Mr Grayling’s £200m could be spent in my county alone and still fall short. Non-trunk road highway maintenance budgets have been cut for over 4 decades or more as they are easy targets. Only now are the disastrous consequences becoming evident.
The road surfaces are appalling in our county of Cumbria for car drivers, but they are downright dangerous for bicycle owners and the problem is apparent not only on the normal roads, but also on the motorways, where great chunks of the road surface are missing.
What is more, the County Council seems to just ignore the fact that these hazards exist and there are rarely any filled in.
Most of the problems have arisen where the actual road surface has been patched up after the numerous roadworks ‘inflicted upon us’ by several major companies.The roads have never been worse and travelling on them is like the experience of travelling on the old cobbled streets
Continuing National disgrace with lethal possibilities .
Unnoticed pothole damage could cause your tire to fail when driving at speed on a motorway.
Pot Luck, eh? No such thing in Staffordshire where many roads are simply awash with potholes, including some close to my home that have remained unrepaired for over 12 months. And Grayling is a joke (a costly one to tax payers too!).
I keep sending emails and filling in ‘FIX MY STREET’ web site. Also phoning 101 to the police about our road that my wife and I travel on, on a daily basis. It is a dead end local authority road, but it is in constant use by a certain family who are farmers here. They leave mud all over the road, they have been the culprits for making the road break up. And the mud they leave has clogged up the drainage ditches. We have contacted the local authorities every week, phoned the police and contacted our MP. This road is just one big pothole. No one will deal with it! I have come off my bike several times! And having to use my boots to steer the bike has ruined the heals. I sent them a bill for over £200 as they are not cheap. I got back after the 3 month period £150. Also, we have sent more receipts for damage sustained on the car too. We have to move, the farmers don’t give a damn and are not being fined. So why should they care if the authorities are not implementing the law? Damn sure if I were to put a load of muck on the road I would be fined. I shall be glad to leave. I love the house, but as always people screw up other peoples lives. Especially when you have no voice
Will the money be spent on repairing potholes and will the be mended so that thy do not appear again after a short time ? I just wonder !
I hit a pot hole and tried to make a claim against the council who handed my claim over to a private company. I heard from them 3 months late and was told that they inspected the local highways surveyors report which showed that during the previous 12 months that entire section of road had been inspected and because of this the council were not liable I checked this out on the national highways web site and apparently this is the law. Yet another get out clause introduced by bureaucrats to absolve them from there responsibilities to the public .Every motorist should with hold his road tax until this mess is sorted out .It’s not the law which is an ass it’s the people that make them. Yes there are a lot of ass holes about..The irony of all this is I made a claim for £90 for a new tyre, you can bet your bottom dollar that the bill to the council from the company that handled the claim on their be half was double this.
Don’t try to stop assess any damage after each pothole when driving in Cornwall, too dangerous to stop!
Don’t stop after hitting a pothole in Cornwall, the roads are too dangerous to stop.
I live in a village in wales and theres on long road in and out theres that many potholes it be like driving on the moon and what makes it worse the water board are laying ten miles of new pipe and you just no the tarmac they lay will fall apart after a few months the goverment making billions on fuel duty so try putting it back in potholed roads
Re; pot hole repairs, disinterestead, pooly supervised workmen, low grade materials, unsuitable lightweight plant.
I worked on the road in the 1950’s and if our work standard had been what contractors get away with today, we would have been told “don’t come monday!”
HYes! repairs are sub-standard. A potho;le on a tee junction close to me was repaired twice in 12 months and is a deep hole again. Surely they could learn from the crews who repair airport landing strips between landings.
I agree with the comment about airport landing strips. I watched part of a documentary showing how a team can lay 3 lots/depths of tarmac over a100 yard length in one night and it be ready to take the weight of an aircraft by morning. It would surely be cheaper in the long run to use these techniques and/or quality of tarmac to resurface longer stretches of road rather than make do and mend.. Yes a road may need to be closed to enable this to be done but this is a small price to pay for a quality repair.
I am afraid until you drive on Fenland roads you will never what real potholes and road heave are like, although A roads of various digits can be good ish they are under serious decay but upon B roads and less the heave due to drought and dropped expanse of the highway can throw the car all over the place with drains and ditch’s without barriers everywhere. Strange on the Major A roads such as the A14 the highways agency gets all exited when a dip occurs and puts out signs and speed reductions – shame the same warnings are not proved where the roads are far far worse. Perhaps some senior managers need to take a drive around the country??
That Somersham road … Sine wave.
The government needs to put money into road resurfacing filling potholes is false economy
Arthur, your right but they don’t do that right either, here in Leyland they have done longmenygate for first mile or so full properly done job, last 2 mile total bodge job of large patches, one of um is about 300 yrds long full road, then has a old bit of road size of a car in the middle! Wtf, not saved nothing, machine and men are there, only needed another 50 quid of tarmac for a proper job. Bodge it an scarper, spend a quid to save a penny.
If the councils use the money for that . . .
A major part of the problem is the far reaching austerity cuts, it is easy to say that council staff will do a better job than a contractor, but the true cost of the Tory cuts are…less council staff especially experienced ones, less kit to do the job, government led/encouraged outsourcing, lack of money to buy the more modern machinery.
Unfortunately, the pot holes aren’t just down to the councils not fixing them soon enough, there are also issues with budget cuts affecting flood prevention on a localised scale like keeping ditches clear or cleaning gullies, and the Street Works sections have less staff to police utility reinstatements.
Typically, rural authorities have a larger road network but due to the way that the council funding is allocated (per head of population), a rural authority has less funding than an urban one but higher outlays. Often meaning that an urban authority has all the latest kit and no real need for it all and the ones that need it can’t afford it. This is the main reason why the Social Care crisis is hitting rural communities harder.
Its about time we took to the streets like the French do, we are too laid back in this country and get shafted as a consequence.
Pumping money into pot holes won’t help; folk will just stop and steal it all, or else the rain will wash out the notes. What a daft idea..
I was horrified last week as I watched at least one hundred potholes within a housing estate being “patched”. It was a cold and rainy day in North Lanarkshire, as the tar squad dumped tar into potholes which were full of rain water, thus dispersing said water, very little effort was made to compact the tar, which incidentally was sand carpet, the smooth type of macadam used to surface pavements. Furthermore, no preparation work around the perimeter of the potholes was carried out which renders the whole process as a waste of time and money. Speaking to the foreman, he told me that when they tender for the large council contracts the have to be extremely competitive to secure the business, but make up for it on the exorbitant rates they charge for patching potholes
Why doesn’t the government get carrillion to fix the roads
”Consider winter tyres” Winter tyres wear out at an alarming rate at temperatures above 7 degrees, and they also are much more expensive than ‘ordinary’ tyres. So it would cost a fortune to uses them all year round. Perhaps you mean ‘all season’ tyres?
Our street is a rat-run and was plagued with potholes made worse by the extra traffic. It was resurfaced 18 months ago and a vast improvement. However, I dropped my keys on the road and noticed two wires sticky out of the tarmac. With a lot of kicking and wiggling I managed to free what turned out to be one length of steel wire about 6 inches long and the thickness the earth wire in a twin and earth cable. I then noticed a 2 inch length of steel swarf – the waste steel that comes off a milling machine – sunk in the tarmac. Closer inspection showed 10 more bit a scrap metal mixed into the tarmac. I know a tarmac road is said to be ‘metallised’ but I don’t think it means this… Needless to say I reported it to the council who are investigating it.
How much of our Road Tax is spent on upkeep of our roads? Police say our cars must be roadworthy, thats a joke. I have had to replace 3 broken springs in the last 12 months, in all my years of driving (50 years) I have never had to replace a broken spring. Never mind filling holes resurface the roads with our hard earned cash.
Many of us have reported pot holes, often after damaging tyres and/or wheels which councils seem uninterested in. The current repair methods only produce short term fixes whereas larger coverage would produce longer lasting and therefore more cost effective results. This is symptomatic of modern life in this country highlighted against trips abroad in recent years where roads are much better maintained. It’s about time the Road Tax was ring fenced as in the name
The Old Edinburgh Road, New Galloway, Dumfries and Galloway. Narrow, sing track road. Multiple pot holes, average 30 cm wide, and 10 cm deep. It is impossible to avoid one pair as they are on both sides of the road, which is single track at that point.