The latest figures from RAC’s Pothole Index suggest there has been a potential improvement in the quality of roads across Britain in recent months, which will be music to the ears of commercial fleets nationwide.
RAC’s Q1 2019 Pothole Index found that the number of breakdowns related to potholes was lower than any first quarter for the past three years.
The RAC handled 3,276 callouts for issues such as broken suspension springs, damaged shock absorbers and distorted wheels during Q1 2019; down from 5,540 in Q1 2018.
However, this figure is almost twice as many pothole-related breakdowns experienced in the previous two quarters, with Q3 and Q4 2018 seeing just 1,700 reported issues linked to poor-quality road surfaces.
Nevertheless, the RAC claims that the 3,276 figure is considerably lower than normal for the first quarter of the year, which normally experiences the highest number of breakdowns as a result of the most extreme weather conditions.
The RAC has attributed some of the year-on-year decline to increased funding for local councils from the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget, preventing further deterioration of road surfaces.
Simon Williams, spokesperson for RAC Breakdown, said: “Our data gathered from our patrols’ work at the roadside encouragingly shows there has been a slight improvement in the quality of road surfaces around the country as fewer vehicles have been stricken by broken shock absorbers, suspension springs and distorted wheels.
“This will almost certainly be in part due to the mild winter weather that has helped to prevent road surfaces that were already damaged breaking down further.
“Our findings seem to correlate with data from the Asphalt Industry Alliance’s Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance survey which shows that for the second consecutive year, local authorities’ highway maintenance budgets have increased by almost 20%.
“But while more local authority highway maintenance funding seems to be making a positive difference there is still a long way to go before their roads are brought back to a truly fit-for-purpose state.”
Despite the positivity, RAC’s Pothole Index still indicates that motorists across the UK remain 2.3 times more likely to experience a pothole-related breakdown than they were in 2006 when the index began.
This is down from its peak when drivers were 3.5 times more likely to suffer a breakdown from hitting a pothole in Q1 2010.
Road defects website, FillThatHole confirmed that more than 905,000 potholes were reported nationwide in 2018 alone.
Surrey is the county with the most reports of damaged road surfaces, with 7,700 open reports of potholes, followed by Hampshire, Essex and Hertfordshire.