The RAC has reported an “improving picture” after its patrols attended 13,093 breakdowns relating to poor road surface conditions which equated to 1.4 per cent of all RAC call-outs – the lowest percentage recorded for any 12-month period since October 2017.
However, the breakdown recovery operator said the figure is still very close to the all-time high of 1.6 per cent seen in Q3 and Q4 2017 and Q3 and Q4 2015.
The Pothole Index, which is the RAC’s most accurate long-term indicator of the health of the UK’s roads, suggests drivers are still two and a half times more likely to suffer a pothole-related breakdown than they were when the RAC first started analysing its data in this way 13 years ago in 2006.
The record high for the RAC Pothole Index figure was 3.5 in Q1 2010 when motorists were 3.5 times more likely to breakdown due hitting a pothole as they were in 2006.
Top concern for drivers
The poor state of local roads was identified to be the issue of greatest concern in the RAC’s 2018 Report on Motoring with 42 per cent of the 1,808 drivers surveyed citing this as one of their top four concerns compared to ten per cent in 2017.
Two-thirds (66 per cent) also said the condition of local roads had deteriorated in the last 12 months which represents a worrying increase on 2017 when the percentage was 51 per cent.
In addition, an RAC Freedom of Information request to the 212 councils in England, Scotland and Wales responsible for roads found 512,270 potholes were reported for repair in 2017 to 161 authorities – an increase of 44 per cent on two years earlier.
RAC Breakdown spokesperson, Simon Williams said: “Data gathered from the breakdowns RAC patrols attended in the final three months of 2018 shows a slightly more encouraging picture in relation to the quality of UK road surfaces.
“Unfortunately, while this is better news we are far from having the beautifully smooth roads that motorists would like.
National Roads Fund
“We feel it would be far fairer to road users if more of the tax generated by drivers was put towards the repair and maintenance of local roads.
“From April 2020 the National Roads Fund will come into action with the £6bn brought in from vehicle excise duty each year being ring-fenced for road maintenance and improvement as part of the Road Investment Strategy.
“We believe there is a need for a similar fund for local roads that can tackle the backlog of maintenance over a period of ten years.
“The one-off cost of bring roads in England and Wales back to a fit-for-purpose state is estimated by the Asphalt Industry Alliance to be £9.3bn.”
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