Drivers are still 2.5 times more likely to breakdown due to potholes than in 2006.
Despite the generally mild start to winter RAC patrols still dealt with 1,714 breakdowns in the last three months of 2018 that were more than likely caused by potholes or poor road surfaces.
This number of call-outs for damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs and distorted wheels represented 0.8% of the 217,966 breakdowns the RAC attended on behalf of its 2.1m individual members in the final three months of the year.
And, this in turn was the joint lowest percentage share of pothole-related faults seen by the roadside rescue organisation in the fourth quarter of any year since 2013, to the relief of UK drivers. But it’s a real cause of concern to cyclists and motor-cyclists who can be seriously hurt if thrown onto the road after hitting a pothole.
When looking at 2018 as a whole, RAC patrols attended 13,093 breakdowns related to poor road surface conditions which equated to 1.4% of all RAC call-outs – the lowest percentage recorded for any 12-month period since October 2017 (Q3 2017 – also 1.4%) but unfortunately still very close to the all-time high of 1.6% seen in Q3 and Q4 2017 and Q3 and Q4 2015.
However, in contrast to this improving picture, the Pothole Index, which is the RAC’s most accurate long-term indicator of the health of the UK’s roads, remains stubbornly high at 2.5. This means 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.
In the third quarter of 2018 the index was at 2.63, so the latest figure is also an improvement on that as well as representing a third successive quarterly fall. 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.
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% of 1,808 drivers surveyed citing this as one of their top four concerns compared to 10% in 2017. Two-thirds (66%) 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%.
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% on two years earlier.