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RAC reports record rise in pothole-related breakdowns

Date: 20 April 2021   |   Author: Sean Keywood

An average of 52 drivers per day needed help from RAC patrols due to pothole-related breakdowns in the first three months of 2021, the breakdown organisation has said.

It said this represents a three-fold increase on the last quarter of 2020, the biggest such rise it had ever seen - and this despite continuing Covid-19 lockdown restrictions at the start of this year.

In total, it said 2.4% of call-outs between January and March were for broken suspension springs, distorted wheels and damaged shock absorbers - expected outcomes of a driver hitting a pothole - up from 1.6% during the same period in 2020, and the highest proportion seen since 2017.

The RAC said a 37% rise in such breakdowns compared with the same period last year was made even more stark by this year's lockdown measures, and that in a regular year the figure would have been even higher.

It said this year's figure highlighted the poor condition of many roads following cold winter weather, and that local and national government now faced a big task to bring surfaces back up to standard.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: "These figures highlight what is a genuinely uncomfortable truth for both road users as well as local and national governments - that in many cases, the condition of many roads is now in a desperate state.

"Back in January we feared the colder winter risked causing further extensive damage to the roads, and it's clear this is now exactly what has happened. Many drivers are finding themselves having to use roads that in places better resemble the surface of the Moon and, as our figures show, thousands are suffering from unnecessary and, no doubt, costly breakdowns caused by potholes.

"In some ways, the quieter roads brought about by national lockdowns could have been an ideal time for councils to start to fix problem road surfaces ready for the arrival of more traffic as restrictions are eased. Sadly, our data suggests this may not have been the case and may also suggest many councils are still simply patching up potholes rather than fixing them properly.

"Figures as bad as the ones we are publishing today should herald a watershed moment where authorities finally acknowledge the perilous state many roads are currently in and take decisive action to bring them up to a reasonable standard."