Dwindling highway maintenance budgets have led to an enormous reduction in cash for pothole repairs.
The impact of this, compounded with rising traffic levels, is putting drivers at risk, warns new analysis from AA Tyres, the AA’s mobile tyre fitting service.
The research reveals that annual road maintenance budgets have been cut by £220 million since 2014. During the same period, however, annual road traffic levels increased by 11.4 billion miles across England and Wales, further burdening an ageing and consistently underfunded road network.
With significantly smaller maintenance budgets, local authorities have been forced to slash annual expenditure on pothole repairs by £42 million since 2014, resulting in 35% fewer repairs last year than in 2014.
And it’s the country’s drivers that are paying the cost: one in three (32%) motorists have experienced vehicle damage in pothole-related incidents during the last two years, according to recent AA Tyres research, including expensive damage to tyres, wheels, tracking and bodywork.
Simon Benson, director of motoring services at AA Tyres, said, “With the government allocating significantly smaller budgets for highway maintenance, the country’s roads are suffering and we’ve seen a sharp decline in the number of potholes repaired each year since 2014.
“A distinct lack of funding means that the country’s roads are deteriorating, putting drivers at risk and making pothole-related damage to cars increasingly likely.
“There are several ways you can minimise the risk of damage caused by potholes. Ensuring your tyres are inflated to the recommended pressure will help as a pothole impact with soft tyres is more likely to lead to wheel rim and other damage. You can find the correct tyre inflation pressures in either your vehicle’s handbook, on the label inside the driver’s side door frame or inside the fuel cap.
“Resist the urge to swerve or brake to avoid potholes. Swerving may mean lead to loss of control especially if you hit the pothole while trying to avoid it which, in turn, can cause even more damage than if you allowed the tyre to pass over the pothole in a straight line. Similarly, heavy braking compresses the front suspension which can place more weight and shock on the tyre and suspension as it strikes the pothole.
“You should reduce your speed if you know you’re approaching a pothole as this will lessen the chance of serious damage to tyres, wheels and suspension. Do the same if you’re approaching standing water as this may disguise a deep and potentially dangerous pothole.
“If you do hit a pothole with some force, stop when it’s safe to do so and check your tyres for any obvious damage such as a split or bulge. If the steering pulls to one side or if the car handles oddly, or there are unusual vibrations then get your tracking and suspension checked as soon as you can.”
The risk of having an accident between 5pm and 8pm during the weeks following the Autumn clock change rises by a shocking 12%.
According to unique analysis of 5 years of driving data and claims from over 400,000 policies by Insure The Box, this week could be start of a winter trend.
Overall, there is a 12% increase in the risk of having an accident in the 4 weeks following the clock change. With 43% of Accident Alerts recorded by Insure The Box, occurring after 5 o’clock in the evening, the company believes the Government has missed an important opportunity to include night time training for new drivers.
The telematics black box fitted to each policyholder’s car sets off an alert to Insure The Box when a significant impact is detected. This enables the firm to contact the driver as well as alert emergency services where necessary. On average in 2016, Insure the Box contacted the emergency services directly 9 times a month in response to an Accident Alert.
The data from the telematics box also enables Insure The Box understand the DNA of accidents, having accumulated over 3 billion miles of driving data and associated claims, so that it can engage with drivers to encourage safer driving.