Nearly half of drivers think local roads have worsened, RAC finds
22 November 2019
Author: Sean Keywood
Nearly half of UK drivers think the condition of local roads has deteriorated in the last year, according to research by the RAC.
A survey for the motoring organisation's 2019 Report on Motoring found that 49% of drivers thought local roads - meaning all roads except motorways or major A-roads - had got worse, mainly due to potholes and other surface problems.
In contrast, only 11% of respondents said roads had improved, while 40% said there had been no real change.
The research also showed a bit of a divide between rural and urban roads, with rural drivers almost 10% more likely to say roads had got worse, while 25% of London motorists thought roads had improved, compared with 11% nationally.
While potholes and surface problems were the major issues, 22% of drivers also cited grass and foliage maintenance as a concern, while 17% said signage visibility had deteriorated - issues the RAC says may be linked, with overgrown plants blocking signs.
When asked about motorways and other major dual carriageways, motorists were more favourable, but still 28% thought they had got worse, while only 11% thought they had improved.
The RAC does add that the overall picture may be improving, with the survey's headline 49% figure an improvement on the 66% recorded 12 months ago, and the RAC's breakdown statistics also showing a reduction in pothole-related callouts.
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: "Despite data from our patrols revealing fewer of the breakdowns they have attended this year have been related to pothole damage, it seems that drivers still feel that road surfaces are not as good as they should be.
"Those living in rural areas definitely feel more hard done by, perhaps because they rely on their cars more than those in towns and cities so they are more inclined to notice defects that hinder their journeys.
"There is also a very clear divide between opinions about the condition of local roads and motorways and dual carriageways with local roads appearing to be in a far worse state than their major road counterparts. This points towards the difference in the way both are funded with only major roads having certainty of funding from central government.
"We believe local roads are just as vital to the UK's economy so should be treated in a similar way which would allow local authorities to plan routine maintenance rather just filling in potholes as they appear."