Pothole problem during the pandemic

Despite the country being in various stages of lockdown from April to the end of June in its fight against the coronavirus, RAC patrols still had to go to the rescue of 1,766 drivers whose vehicles had fallen foul of potholes.

While overall motor traffic volumes were down by as much 60% in the second quarter of 2020 according to government data, pothole-related call-outs during this period still made up 1.1% of all breakdowns attended by the RAC – the same proportion as were attended in the second quarter of 2019, perhaps indicating that road surface quality has not significantly improved.

It certainly hasn’t in many parts of the SW both Cornwall and Devon, where pot holes remain a hazard. On single-track lanes they are often unavoidable.

In contrast to the first quarter of the year when RAC patrols went to the aid of 3,426 drivers who suffered damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs or distorted wheels (equal to 1.6% of all breakdowns), the drop in the number of pothole breakdowns between April and June is, however, significant.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “On the surface, these statistics appear encouraging because they make it seem as though the quality of our roads hasn’t worsened, but when you consider how few vehicles were on the road, they are a real cause for concern.

“We would have hoped to have seen a far bigger drop in the share of pothole-related breakdowns than we would do normally at this time of year, but instead it was just the same as usual.”

“With council budgets under significant pressure, it is important that our local roads are not left behind as the UK’s economic recovery will depend on high quality infrastructure. This is why we want to see councils given the same certainty of funding for road maintenance and improvement as major roads in England and Wales have through the National Roads Fund which ring-fences money from car tax – vehicle excise duty – for that purpose.

“This could easily be achieved by putting aside 2p from the existing 58p a litre duty on the sale of petrol and diesel. Over five years this would generate nearly £5bn of additional funds which will help bring our local roads back to a fit-for-purpose state.”

To report a pothole, or to find out if you suffer from damage from one and wonder if you can claim for compensation, visit the RAC’s pothole online guide. The RAC has also published a guide on looking after cars during the pandemic.

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