posted 9 months ago

Frustrated Drivers Demand More Money to Fix Potholes

Drivers criticise condition of local roads, why potholes are dangerous and vote now for how to pay for such repairs

Local roads poorly maintained, survey suggests

Drivers have become increasingly frustrated by the dangerous, damaging, and irritating potholes that blight local roads throughout The UK, AA research suggests. Only 15% of survey respondents say that local roads are maintained to a high standard.

This overall, average, figure incorporates notable regional variations. Motorists in North-West England are the least satisfied, for instance. Only 10% say the local roads are maintained to a high standard. In contrast, drivers in Northern Ireland are happiest. 27% argue such roads are properly maintained.

Motorists, in contrast, have a better perception of motorways and other major roads. Of the survey respondents, 66% and 31% respectively believe these routes are maintained to a high standard. This perception is supported via the sums invested. Note:

  • Between 2015/16 and 2016/17, spending on local authority A-roads increased from £1.240 billion to £1.429 billion (+15.2%)
  • Between 2015/16 and 2016/2017, the total spent maintaining local roads fell from £2.088 billion to £1.866 billion (-10.6%)
  • Local Government Association says national roads – such as motorways and other major routes – will, by 2020, have 52 times more investment per-mile than the councils’ local routes

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Danger of potholes

Potholes cause a range of problems. Damage, for instance. A car that hits a pothole might have a puncture, broken wheel and/or damage to its suspension. In the most extreme case, these factors can cause a collision. Furthermore, motorists have to swerve and brake suddenly to avoid ploughing into potholes. That is dangerous.

Drivers cannot expect immediate rest bite from potholes on local roads. Conditions might get worse, in fact. The recent snow, thawing, and continued low temperatures make this the likely scenario. Such weather, after all, created the perfect conditions for new holes to form and existing holes to expand. The process is:

  • Water penetrates a small hole in the surface of the road
  • Water stays in the hole as there is nowhere for it to escape
  • Temperature falls
  • Water cools, freezes then expands as it becomes ice
  • Expansion enlarges the hole
  • More water penetrates the enlarged hole
  • Cycle repeats until the road collapses leaving a pothole

Local road repair funding options

Drivers have called for more money for local road repairs but differ on how to find it, the survey suggests. 70% say it is a mistake to increase taxation, for example. Presumably they favour further borrowing or cuts elsewhere. In contrast, 49% and 44% respectively favour a modest rise in Vehicle Excise Duty/Fuel Duty.