Roddy Graham's Blog: 18 February - Driving us potty
18 February 2010
Roddy Graham is chairman of the ICFM and commercial director of Leasedrive Velo
What requires a driver's reaction time of seconds and yet a council's reaction time of weeks? Yes, you've guessed it - a pothole!
Those black holes I wrote about on January 14 are indeed getting a whole lot bigger and, worst still, a whole lot more numerous. At the rate that councils are trying to catch up on repair work, all our cars will be in the knacker's yard.
Recalls may be grabbing all the headlines at the moment but it won't be long at this rate before the vehicles filling service bays up and down the country will be those in for suspension, tyre and wheel damage.
Even more frightening is the thought that a damaged tyre subsequently explodes on a busy motorway causing potential death or destruction, or the broken suspension on a vehicle sends it careering uncontrollably into a busy bus queue.
It is estimated that UK roads have deteriorated by 50 per cent with an accompanying dramatic increase in those black holes. The latest count suggests that on the 246,000 miles of our secondary roads, there are 1.6 million potholes, an increase of 700,000 in the past two years and still rising. That's equivalent to one pothole every 120 yards. Well, I've got news for the statisticians. The journey to work this morning revealed more like one every 12 yards!
Already, there is an outstanding £10bn-worth of pothole repairs with us, the increasingly poorer taxpayer, faced with having to fund millions more pounds worth of road repairs. Meanwhile, local councils are lobbying the government for a £100m emergency repair fund.
Compensation claims in 2009 rose to £47m for injury and damage after a 30 per cent increase in the number of potholes. Remember though, to successfully claim, you have to first of all have reported the problem to your local council. If you can't be bothered calling in, log on to www.potholes.co.uk.
The latter site estimates that potholes cause as many as one in five mechanical failures on UK roads, costing drivers an estimated £320 million every year.
The AA is calling for two pence per litre from fuel taxes to be used to repair our potholes. Not a bad suggestion but then we all know how government likes to siphon off road tax and fuel duty to pay for things totally unconnected with motoring and our roads.
With an election coming up, it's time we are all started lobbying hard before our roads degenerate to official third world status.