The equivalent of 52 pothole-related breakdowns a day has been reported between January and March 2021 by the RAC.
RAC patrols assisted 4,694 drivers between January and March who had most likely broken down due to hitting a pothole.
That figure represents a three-fold increase on the number of pothole-related breakdowns from the last quarter of 2020, which had already risen in Q4 2020 from 1,461 to 3,233 in Q4. It’s the largest rise between quarters the RAC has ever seen.
There were 37% more pothole-related breakdowns in Q1 2021 than Q1 2020.
2.4% of all RAC callouts between January and March were for broken suspension springs, distorted wheels, and damaged shock absorbers, common problems after hitting a pothole. This has risen from 1.6% during the same period in 2020.
Commenting on the findings, RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “The condition of many roads is now in a desperate state.
“Put simply, we’ve just had the largest quarterly rise in the number of pothole-related breakdowns on record. And the problem risks getting even worse as pandemic restrictions are eased and the roads get busier”.
Kwik Fit’s annual Pothole Impact Tracker (PIT) report, published in March, showed that the total repair bill to vehicles from pothole damage over the past year rose from £1.249 billion to £1.267 billion.
Furthermore, the report suggested despite reduced mileage in 2021 due to continued lockdown restrictions, drivers have hit an average of 11 potholes per month and some 10.2 million have suffered damage to their car as a result.
The average pothole costs around £50 to fill in. In February 2021 The Department for Transport (DfT) allocated £500 million to local authorities in England for highways maintenance stating it could fix the equivalent of 10 million potholes across the country.
However, despite promises of more money from Government, the RAC believes many councils remain stuck in a vicious cycle, unable to properly repair the roads they are responsible for.
Lyes said: “Many drivers are finding themselves having to use roads that in places better resemble the surface of the Moon and, as our figures show, thousands are suffering from unnecessary and, no doubt, costly breakdowns caused by potholes.
“In some ways, the quieter roads brought about by national lockdowns could have been an ideal time for councils to start to fix problem road surfaces ready for the arrival of more traffic as restrictions are eased.
“Sadly, our data suggests this may not have been the case and may also suggest many councils are still simply patching up potholes rather than fixing them properly”.
The RAC has long campaigned for Government to ring-fence some funds over a five-year period to give councils the resources they need to plan and deliver longer-term road maintenance.
“We appeal to the transport secretary and the Treasury to take a fresh look at roads funding given the data we are publishing today,” said Lyes.
“Potholes are a sign of broken roads, but they are also a sign of the broken nature of how the roads are looked after and paid for.
“The UK Government and local authorities must break the cycle and commit to doing something differently – if they don’t, all road users will continue to suffer unnecessarily”.