'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 213.

    So very true, the roads are in a shocking state. My front, left tyre blew out the other day after hitting a pothole. The problem is simple: road tax is not spend on the roads but on whatever vanity project whichever govt happens to be in charge at the time fancies. All parties that have been in power are guilty of this!

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    MOT is most certainly not irrelevant.. There are enough people who cant even be bothered to check their tyre pressures now and again doing 80 on the mways"

    At least half the test is nothing to do with safety. Pre MoT - 3% accidents due to mech. condition. Nowadays - 3%.

    I worked much of my life on vehicle maintenance. The MoT is NOT about safety. It's about work for garages.

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    Might it be a good idea to spend some of the large sums of cash raised on Petrol tax and Road Fund Licenses on repairing the roads?

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    Referencing my post 11. it just occurred to me the Govt admits only giving 3 billion to councils for road repair, yet motorists pay 4 billion simply in VAT on Fuel duty (a tax ON another TAX)

    Let alone the fuel duty itself, the vehicle license tax, the special tax on new vehicle sales, speed camera tax, mot tax, etc.

    Really government are more than taking the mickey out of motorists.


  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    25. MemoryisRAM
    "Playing the devils advocate"

    Guess you failed to spot the meaning of devil's advocate here. Well, unless you're a Satan worshipper!

  • rate this

    Comment number 208.

    The claim's process is more detailed than a passport application and the process is clearly designed at putting off claimants. If you are successfull you only get a proportion of the cost. A £125 new tyre with an £84 contribution from the local council provided because I was able to give them chapter and verse with photgraphic evidence of everything they requried. Good luck!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    I would like to complain about the inconvenience of my CD skipping all the time on the way to work!

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    The main problem is they do not fix the potholes properly. Rather than fixing the same potholes every year cheap, they should do it once properly. Yes, it is more expensive but in long term save you money!

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.

    When I first started visiting Portugal 25 years ago, I was proud of the state of our roads back home here by comparison.

    Even the main Faro/Lisbon road was a patchwork of interconnected repairs - the secondary reads were frightening.

    Sadly to say, it now appears there's almost a complete reversal. I drove part of the A41 to M25 yesterday, and it was like being in a Third World Country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    What's frustrating is the time it takes to do the repairs. A stretch near me has a dozen or so holes in a 10 metre length of road. 4 weeks ago it was closed off for someone to take pictures and draw around them. Nothing has happened since then.

    Why not have a team who just go around and fill them in rather than the time and money involved in recording everything before, during and after a repair

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    Part of the problem is councils farming out road maintenance to private companies, if you had the contract to repair pot holes and are paid by the number you do regardless of how many times you do each one would you ensure the repair lasts?

    I wouldn't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    I agree, people (and I'd liked to say its normally audi drivers around my way) drive as if they're in a grand prix & want to get home from work in the quickest possible time. Whereas I don't mind the journey taking 5-10 minutes longer if it means I don't have (cause) an accident (having an audi speeding into me is out of my control to some extent). They can't wait to overtake!

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    I remember my first visit to Malta some years ago; their roads were appallingly bad, really below even third-world standards.

    Now I drive around the UK and guess what? Ours are down to the standard theirs used to be, while last time I visited Malta a few months ago their roads seemed rather better.

    Time to emigrate? But why should we? Time to kick out the big 3 parties, perhaps.

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    Years ago the French roads were terrible but French cars had soft suspension and high profile tyres to cope with them. As manufacturers now fit stupidly low profile tyres and hard suspension it is no wonder so many cars are damaged.

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    We are all aware the problem has been the 'frreaky' weather the last two/three winters have brought. If, as we keep being told, the weather
    will get worse in the future, and we should brace ourselves, what on earth can we
    expect from our roads in future. Me thinks they need to get their thinking caps on. Oh dear - Forgot - They don't have any.

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    Michael Lloyd

    "Every year the majority of vehicles have to pass a largely irrelevant test to prove they are "fit for the road.""

    Have to take issue with you on that one, the MOT is most certainly not irrelevant .Can you imagine what state a lot of cars would be in without it? There are enough people who cant even be bothered to check their tyre pressures now and again doing 80 on the mways

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    Quickly! We need a royal commision to look into the problem of why there are so many potholes. This means holding a public enquiry, setting up a task force to collate the data. With the results, we can set up an NGO to monitor and measure the change.

    Every one of those will need to be staffed with 'experienced' civil servants and goons from political think tanks, each with a 6 digit salaries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    Shouldn't the size of large lorries be reduced instead of being increased all the time to carry more weight? Less damage would occur. Councils need to repair potholes more thoroughly and spend more funds on this. Motorists pay a high price! It is frequently seen that only a few holes are repaired and 2 or 3 next to them are left untouched and a week or so later the potholes are worse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    @192 "We pay road tax, a small % of whichis used on the roads, disgraceful."

    Suggest you read post 179

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    there are a number of issues here1)the govt is turning a blind eye and says it is providing x amount of money to fix roads which is not enough 2)those of us who have had to pay for new cars with warranty will soon find that their warranty will become invalid due to the pot holes we hit (the average motorist with a new car is a careful driver)3)councils insurance bils are unceasing due to claims


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