Drivers are being left to count the cost of the harsh winter weather as cases of pothole-related damage continue to increase.
According to breakdown data from the RAC the proportion of failures caused by potholes in the first quarter of 2018 was the third highest recorded since 2006, when it began tracking of such faults.
The number of call-outs to pothole damage almost doubled between the last quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018 to 5,540. They accounted for 2.3 per cent of all incidents attended by RAC patrols.
RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “Few would disagree that the harsh cold weather experienced over the last three months has led to a further deterioration of road surfaces.
“While RAC patrols saw the third highest quarterly share of pothole-related breakdowns in the first three months of 2018 the figure was not as high as we had been expecting, probably due the fact that the weather hit relatively late in the quarter. For this reason we feel we are likely to see more vehicles suffering pothole damage in the second quarter of 2018 compared with recent years.
“Ever since we started analysing these faults, this second quarter figure has dropped sharply as local authorities catch up with repairs to address the worst damage to their roads caused by winter weather.
“If the index doesn’t reduce or, worse still, continues to increase then this will be a very strong indication that our roads are still in a dire state of repair.”
Road safety and breakdown group GEM Motoring Assist has warned that as well as the financial cost of repairs pothole damage carries safety risks.
GEM road safety officer Neil Worth said: “Potholes have an enormous financial impact on motorists, who most of the time must bear the cost of repairs to paintwork, suspension and tyres – even though they have already paid for local road maintenance through their council tax.
“Those drivers who can’t afford these repairs risk making journeys in vehicles that are potentially unsafe.”
The RAC’s Pothole Index, which tracks the condition of British roads, shows a full-year decline in standards, following a period of slow improvement. This has prompted the RAC to repeat calls for the Government to ring-fence money from fuel duty for road repairs.
Mr Bizley added: “Motorists understand that councils are under difficult financial pressures and are not able to spend as much on road maintenance as they have done in the past. The RAC has repeatedly called for a change of tack from the Government to give councils certainty of funding going forwards to address the huge backlog in maintenance over an agreed period.”
“Drivers contribute in excess of £40 billion in motoring taxation a year and many feel they should not have to endure substandard roads as a result.”