The RAC has warned that the condition of roads in the UK has reached a critical point as it reports on a 63% increase in pothole-related breakdowns in the first quarter of the year despite a comparatively dry winter. The RAC attended over 6,500 breakdowns caused as a result of potholes in the first quarter of 2017, resulting in distorted wheels, damaged shock absorbers and broken suspension springs. 


The weather between January and March was not noted for its inclemency, making the rise in breakdown call-outs “surprising and unwelcome”. Not since the first quarter of 2015 has the RAC been called out to more pothole-related incidents (6,900). The start of that year though saw more days of frost and rainfall than this year’s equivalent.


RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “Our figures sadly show a surprising and unwelcome first quarter rise in the number of breakdowns where the poor quality of the road surface was a major factor.


“We had expected a figure no worse than that recorded in the first quarter of 2016 (4,026) and it is very concerning that the roads, strangely, appear to have deteriorated in a mild, comparatively dry winter.”


The state of local roads is currently a major concern to drivers according to the latest RAC Report on Motoring, with 14% of respondents saying it was their top concern of 2016, up from 10% in 2015.


David Bizley added: “As a nation we still have a long way to go to ensure the whole road network – not just our major roads which are enjoying one of the largest investment programmes in a generation – is really fit for purpose.


“Certainly anyone that has experienced a breakdown as a result of hitting a pothole will know just how frustrating that can be – not to say dangerous and expensive if damage to their vehicle is sustained.


“Local authorities still have a huge funding gap in their roads budget and until central government is willing to ring-fence sufficient funding to bring local roads back into a state that is fit for purpose, their condition will be subject to the whims of the weather and they will continue to be the poor relation in the nation’s transport infrastructure.”