'Millions of cars' damaged by potholes

Car passing pothole The survey found local roads rated worst in Scotland and Yorkshire and Humber

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A third of drivers have suffered damage to their vehicles from potholes over the last two years, a survey suggests.

A third also rated the condition of their local roads as poor, very poor or "terrible", according to the AA/Populus survey of nearly 23,000 drivers.

Meanwhile, the Asphalt Industry Alliance says councils may need as much as £10.5bn to bring the country's "crumbling roads" into good condition.

The government said it had given councils over £3bn to maintain roads.

Only 10% of those who took part in the AA survey rated their local roads very good or excellent, with the lowest ratings going to Scotland and the Yorkshire and Humber region.

Pothole Councils pay out millions annually to compensate for damage to vehicles

Drivers in Northern Ireland, Wales and London reported roads to be in best condition, but even there more than 50% of respondents only rated them as fair.

In north-east England, 59% of respondents said conditions were worse than a year ago, while those saying the roads had improved were greatest in Wales (13%) and London (12%).

AA members in Scotland were most likely to report pothole damage to their cars, with 44% saying their vehicles had suffered damage.

AA president Edmund King said: "Our findings are deeply worrying and show that UK drivers are once again experiencing a bad pothole season after a lull last spring - perhaps with worse to come. The slight let-up in potholes this time last year may have been just a blip in the annual pothole blight that seems to beset us each spring."

Repairs backlog

Start Quote

Decades of underfunding by Whitehall, severe winters and recent widespread flooding has left large swathes of our roads in disrepair”

End Quote Peter Box Local Government Association

Meanwhile, the annual report from the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) showed that last year council highways teams fixed 2.2 million potholes, 500,000 more than the year before.

Local authorities are responsible for 95% of roads in England and Wales.

However, the backlog in repairs is growing longer, now estimated at £10.5bn, and 20% of local roads are classed as being in "poor condition", which is defined as having five years or less life remaining.

Based on responses from 75% of England and Wales councils, the survey reported the average English authority was £6.2m short of what it needed to properly maintain its roads, up from £5.3m in 2011.

It also showed that repairing roads damaged by last year's flooding rainfall cost these local authorities around £338m. The AIA said local authorities in England, including London, reported a shortfall in their annual budgets totalling £829m.

Last year councils paid £32m in compensation to drivers whose vehicles were damaged by potholes, 50% more than 2011.

Efficiency programme

David Weeks, Asphalt Industry Alliance: "Spend more now to save more in the future"

The Local Government Association, which represents more than 370 councils across England and Wales, is warning that if councils' funding is cut, many may find it impossible to keep on top of road repairs.

Councillor Peter Box, chair of the LGA's Economy and Transport Board, said: "Decades of underfunding by Whitehall, severe winters and recent widespread flooding has left large swathes of our roads in disrepair with many councils struggling to move beyond simply patching up a deteriorating network."

Local Transport Minister Norman Baker said: "In December 2012 we announced an extra £215m to help councils get the best out of their road network. This is on top of the additional £200m we gave to councils in March 2011 to repair local roads damaged by the severe winter weather in 2010.

"It is ultimately up to local highway authorities to determine how they prioritise their funding, but we want to help them get the best value for money. That is why we are funding the highways maintenance efficiency programme which helps councils work together to deliver a first-class service to their residents, at the same time as saving money."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    "Playing the devils advocate here, but i'm often amazed (and worried) at how some people don't notice huge pothole and just drive through them." Fair point but often it is not safe to avoid them due to traffic conditions on all sorts of roads. I try to avoid but can't always do this due to the traffic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    I live in Oldham, and the pot holes are atrocious. My mum lives in York, and the roads (from what I've seen at least) are immaculate.

    Many people would argue that the money is being diverted to richer places, but here, the Chairman of the Oldham Council would rather spend council tax on silly statues than our roads and infrastructure. The Hollinwood area is particularly bad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    put a further tax on fuel to pay for repairs then those that use the road most would pay the most for their upkeep

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    Our roads are in a terrible state of disrepair and I certainly do not remember this being a problem historically. And why when potholes are repaired are the seams not sealed with bitumen as used to be the case? It just means they eventually break up again.

    The lack of care undoubtedly reflects our slide into towards being a third-rate nation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    I've driven on better roads in war zones than those around Glasgow but obviously the council has no money to spend on repairs.

    Funny how they can always find money for jollies, anyone else remember the trip to India for the Commonwealth Games ending? Or maybe even the ridiculous ideas for George Square? Or........

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    i blew 2 nearside tyres and broke a suspension sensor hitting a pothole over a year ago, and despite providing quotes, photos of the damage and pothole, dimensions, etc, Herts County Council refuse to pay up.
    Any one know how i can pursue this without landing a hefty legal bill?

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    The Treasury receives over 5 billion a year in road tax.This is clearly not being returned in the form of road maintenance. Maybe it's time to start ring-fencing. If a tax is called Road Tax,spend it on roads.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    Has any research been done into how much damage poor driving causes to cars? The ability and behaviour of drivers seems to vary immensley from one part of the country to another.
    Should we look at informing drivers that driving about without paying attention to road conditions is silly?

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    I wonder who the council employs to repair these potholes. Probably the cheapest they can get. Certainly it looks like they are filled with brown sugar down here in the south east because they next rainfall and they are back again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    It is not just a case of there being a few potholes around here.

    In many places the road surface is completely missing!

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    If this was a private company providing poor service you'd be entitled to a refund or compensation. With all the road tax and fueld duty and fuel VAT raising billions the motorist should be due a substantial refund. Petition your MP for one, poor response kick out at the next election!

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    Playing the devils advocate here, but i'm often amazed (and worried) at how some people don't notice huge pothole and just drive through them."

    Especially when they are covered with snow, or fallen leaves in the Autumn, or flooded etc ?

    Too much emphasis on cars here, they are lethal for those on motorbikes/pedlabikes so it's not just wheel damage in question.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    Has any research been done into how much damage speed humps cause to cars? The design and severity of humps seems to vary immensley from one part of the country to another . Do they actually do any good?

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    I read the news today. Oh boy! 10,000 holes in Blackburn Lancashire...

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    90:- "..action needed is to reduce the speed at which cars travel especially on the roads needing repairs."

    Sensible - but plays right into the hands of the liberal anti-car brigade: We then get "temporary" reductions from 60 to 40, which are eventually made permanent on the basis of "safety" - as everyone knows that "speed kills" (not dangerous drivers or dangerous roads...). See Oxton ByPass...

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    The Scottish Borders Council just throw a spade full of the hot tarmac into the pot hole and roller it over. Finished.
    On closer inspection there are voids, cracks with no edge seal which is open to water, ice and salt penetration as well as the traffic loadings that weakens the patch, only to re-emerge as a pot hole at a later date.
    Outstanding work SBC!

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    All taxation from the car/fuel/roadtax/vat should be spent on the road infastructure , not providing aid to Libya and Syria and any other country with a begging bowl .

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    Maybe the Cameron Government should speed a lot less on gimmicky trains, subsidized train tickets and little more on this nations roads

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    @ 76.blagshaw: "The roads are ten times better in Southern England since labour were kicked out but they're still pretty dangerous."

    Ha, ha, ha, ha, you can't be serious, no, phew! Just re-read it, you CAN'T be serious, no one could ever, possibly come to this conclusion quite apart from the fact that, as explained in the article, local authorities are responsible for maintaining the roads.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    The drivers of this country are taxed in every way possible by the government and yet our roads are still in such poor state. I drive for a living, last night I hit a pothole doing 60-70 mph on a motorway, incredibly dangerous! The government has become addicted to the tax revenues drivers generate ... very little of which is clearly invested to the benefit of road users


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