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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

New partnership formed as shock figures show pothole damage at record high

A new partnership has been launched today (15 January) between road users and industry to help tackle the scourge of potholes as shock new figures from the AA show pothole damage to vehicles has hit a five year high.

The research – released on National Pothole Day – shows that the AA dealt with 631,852 pothole related incidents in 2023, the highest for five years.

Now the newly-formed Pothole Partnership has unveiled a new five-point plan to help tackle the issue. The coalition represents the interests of drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists, pedestrians, and road repairers. The Partnership’s Pothole pledge is being sent to central and local government today.

The Pothole Partnership has been formed by the AA, the National Motorcyclists Council, British Cycling, IAM RoadSmart, the British Motorcyclists Federation and manufacturer JCB.

Last year pothole damage to vehicles cost a staggering £474,000,000, according to new figures* released by the Pothole Partnership on National Pothole Day.

Such is the widespread concern over potholes that a new Pothole Partnership of road users (drivers, motorcycle riders and cyclists) and repairers has been formed to press the case for more effective permanent repairs.

The AA dealt with 632k incidents in 2023 of tyre, wheel, steering, and suspension damaged by potholes which if rounded up on a national scale represents a staggering 2m vehicles affected by poor road maintenance. This is an increase of 16.39% when compared to 2022 (543k). As most new cars don’t come with a spare tyre as standard, pothole punctures are costing drivers more time and money.

Last month (62k) saw an increase of 15.2% when compared to December 2022 (54k).

2019 2023 pothole graph

“Last year AA patrols dealt with more than 600,000 pothole-related incidents which on a national scale will have cost drivers almost half a billion pounds.”

Edmund King, AA President, said: “Last year AA patrols dealt with more than 600,000 pothole-related incidents which on a national scale will have cost drivers almost half a billion pounds. Currently, we often have a vicious circle of: pothole formed; damage caused; pothole patched; pothole reappears with more damage caused - when what we need are more permanent repairs. Potholes are the number one concern for 96% of drivers and can be fatal for those on two wheels so hopefully pressure from the Pothole Partnership will lead to permanent repairs.”

Craig Carey-Clinch, Executive Director, National Motorcyclists Council, said: “The situation is becoming ever more acute for motorcyclists. Potholes and other road surface related defects are already shown to be extremely dangerous for motorcycle riders. The same pothole that damages a car, could prove fatal to a rider. Action is needed now to urgently clear the backlog of repairs. The NMC fully supports the Pothole Partnership and urges the Government to front load the £8.3billion that has been announced. The problem is now, not in seven or nine years time.”

Caroline Julian, External Affairs Director, British Cycling, said: “We know from our members that potholes are a longstanding frustration and concern. They have tragic and fatal consequences that cannot be ignored. If we’re serious about fulfilling our ambitions to get more people cycling, we simply must ensure that our roads are safe and comfortable for them to ride on, and not the crater-filled carriageways they currently face.”

Ben Rawding, General Manager, JCB, said: “As we mark National Pothole Day, JCB is delighted to be part of the Pothole Partnership, a group committed to fixing Britain’s roads. Tackling the national backlog of potholes properly will involve investment in innovation and new technologies to ensure permanent fixes, not temporary repairs. Britain’s motorists, motorcyclists and cyclists deserve nothing less.”

The award-winning JCB Pothole Pro is a unique 3 in 1 solution specifically designed to sort out any pothole repair or large reinstatement operation, efficiently, economically, and permanently. Because it comes equipped with 3 dedicated tools to cut, crop and clean, there’s no need for additional specialist equipment or extra manpower, saving both time and money. It can repair a typical pothole in just 8 minutes and provides a permanent fix.

AA president, Edmund King with a JCB Pothole Pro and an AA patrol van outside Fanum House

Permanent: Local authorities to limit the practice of temporary pothole repairs or patches and, where possible, every pothole or patch to be repaired permanently.

Precise: All local authorities / contractors to adhere to UK-wide repair and inspection standards, and report annually on the repairs undertaken.

Price: Government to demonstrate greater urgency by accelerating and increasing spending of the £8.3bn pothole funding for England in the first three years – with total clarity on the distribution to local authorities.

Provision: Central and local government to guarantee ringfencing of ALL road maintenance funding to help deliver innovations that enable permanent repairs.

Progress: Full transparency from local authorities on their roads repair backlog, categorised by potholes, patching works and road resurfacing.

The Partnership has welcomed extra funding for maintenance including the £8.3bn from HS2 but wants it ring-fenced and expenditure increased in the early years and used more effectively. It is often a false economy to just patch potholes when that stretch of road needs resurfacing. New technology in the shape of the JCB Pothole Pro can not only speed up repairs, but also make them last longer.

A recent survey of more than 11,000 AA members found that the top transport issue for 96% of drivers was Increased investment in repairing and upgrading the roads (i.e., fixing potholes).** Whilst potholes can be a very expensive inconvenience for those on four wheels, it can be life-changing and even fatal for those on two wheels.

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