Pothole Partnership formed with pothole damage at five-year high

A new Pothole Partnership has been formed with road users and industry, with new figures revealing that pothole damage to vehicles is at a five-year high.

The research from the AA has been revealed on National Pothole Day (15 January) and show that the AA dealt with 631,852 pothole related incidents in 2023. This is the highest number for five years.

The Pothole Partnership includes the AA, the National Motorcyclists Council, British Cycling, IAM RoadSmart, the British Motorcyclists Federation and manufacturer JCB and aims to represent the interests of drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists, pedestrians, and road repairers.

According to the research, damage to vehicles from potholes cost £474,000,000 last year. Across 2023, the AA handled 632,000 incidents of tyre, wheel, steering, and suspension damage caused by potholes.

Edmund King, AA President, said: “Last year AA patrols dealt with more than 600,000 pothole-related incidents which on a national scale will have cost drivers almost half a billion pounds. Currently, we often have a vicious circle of: pothole formed; damage caused; pothole patched; pothole reappears with more damage caused - when what we need are more permanent repairs. Potholes are the number one concern for 96% of drivers and can be fatal for those on two wheels so hopefully pressure from the Pothole Partnership will lead to permanent repairs.”

Craig Carey-Clinch, Executive Director, National Motorcyclists Council, said: “The situation is becoming ever more acute for motorcyclists. Potholes and other road surface related defects are already shown to be extremely dangerous for motorcycle riders. The same pothole that damages a car, could prove fatal to a rider. Action is needed now to urgently clear the backlog of repairs. The NMC fully supports the Pothole Partnership and urges the Government to front load the £8.3billion that has been announced. The problem is now, not in seven or nine years time.”

Caroline Julian, External Affairs Director, British Cycling, said: “We know from our members that potholes are a longstanding frustration and concern. They have tragic and fatal consequences that cannot be ignored. If we’re serious about fulfilling our ambitions to get more people cycling, we simply must ensure that our roads are safe and comfortable for them to ride on, and not the crater-filled carriageways they currently face.”

On national pothole day, the group is delivering a pledge to central and local government - Permanent, Precise, Price, Provision and Progress.

Temporary pothole repairs should be avoided and where possible, every pothole or patch should be repaired permanently.

All local authorities and contractors should adhere to UK-wide repair and inspection standards, and report annually on the repairs undertaken (Precise).

There should be accelerated and increased spending of the £8.3bn pothole funding for England in the first three years.

Central and local government should guarantee ringfencing of all road maintenance funding to help deliver innovations that enable permanent repairs (Provision).

Finally, with regard to Progress, there should be full transparency from local authorities on their roads repair backlog, categorised by potholes, patching works and road resurfacing.

Responding to the news, Cllr Darren Rodwell, transport spokesperson for the Local Government Association, said:

“Councils share the concerns of all road users with the state of our roads and are doing all they can to tackle the £14 billion backlog of road repairs, including learning from and adopting innovative techniques.

“Greater, long-term and year-on-year consistency of funding for the maintenance of all parts of our highways will help them achieve this.

“The Government should award council Highways Departments five-yearly funding allocations, to bring them on a par with National Highways, to give more certainly so they can develop resurfacing programmes and other highways improvements, to help them tackle the scourge of potholes.”

 

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