National Pothole Day on January 15 is obviously not a cause for celebration, but rather an observance that highlights the ever-growing problem of potholes on our roads, and there is a good chance you will discover a new one if you are out and about.
Roads are not forever and they are damaged by weather conditions and traffic use. Rural roads can be especially poor, and if holes fill with rain or snow, then it is hard to know how deep they are, so causing problems for cars, bikes and pedestrians.
Information from the RAC says their patrols attended nearly a quarter (23%) more breakdowns where potholes were likely to blame in the last three months of 2022 compared to the previous three months.
Their roadside staff went out to an average of 20 breakdowns a day between October and the end of the year – a total of more than 1,800 – for faults such as damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs and distorted wheels. This was up from 16 a day over the previous three months (1,462 in total) and was the highest number of pothole-related breakdowns seen in the fourth quarter of the year since 2019.
The threat of a plethora of potholes appearing over the next few months is now very real indeed given how much rain there has been either side of December’s sub-zero temperatures. These are the perfect conditions for creating potholes, as water makes its way into cracks which then expand when it freezes, causing the road surface to crumble.
Research for the RAC’s latest Report on Motoring found that an enormous 86% of drivers have had to deliberately steer to avoid potholes over the past year, a figure that rises to 90% of those in rural areas but only falls to 81% of those in urban locations. Most drivers (55%) also rated pothole repairs in their local areas as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said:
“The wet weather we’ve had both before and after the coldest start to winter in 12 years in December is the perfect recipe for potholes to start peppering the roads. We fear that by the Spring, drivers will be plagued by a plethora of potholes across the country’s roads which makes journeys uncomfortable and frustrating or, worse still, could lead to very expensive garage repair bills – the last thing anyone wants in a cost-of-living crisis. It’s also important to remember that potholes are so much more than just an annoyance, they are a true road safety danger, especially for those on two wheels as they represent a huge risk to their personal safety.
“As many drivers will no doubt testify, there are too many occasions where potholes have been poorly patched up by cash-strapped councils which then return all too quickly. It’s frankly absurd that, as a country, we seem unable to get on top of such an age-old problem when roads play such an important role in people’s everyday lives – and are vital to moving goods and businesses delivering services.
“Councils are crying out for more funding to do a proper job in getting their roads up to a decent standard. With drivers still rating the ongoing poor state of the roads as one of their biggest motoring frustrations, they can only hope that 2023 is the year when the Government finally sits up, takes notice of Britain’s perpetual problem with potholes and comes up with a better way to solve it.”