Potholes leave drivers deeper in trouble, AA reports

  • AA Streetwatch: 40% say local roads in a ‘terrible condition’
  • More than five-fold increase in pothole insurance claims

Overall road condition in the UK has plummeted over the winter, a survey responded to by 23,911 AA members has uncovered. While 29% of respondents reported their local roads in a terrible condition in October 2013, that had risen to 40% by March 2014.

AA Streetwatch road condition surveys: October 2013 versus March 2014. Panel size – 23,911 AA member responses.

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Through its Streetwatch survey programme, the AA can reveal that while 18% of the panel reported their local roads in excellent condition in October this had fallen to 11% by March.  Main roads fared no better with 34% rating them as terrible compared to 24% last October and those rating them excellent fell from 20% in October to 13% now.

Trunk roads did not escape the impact of the very wet winter with a decline of 10% rating their condition as excellent between October and now.  Motorways too saw satisfaction fall with 41% rating their condition as fair before the winter compared to only a third (33%) now.

Edmund King AA President says:

Our new data, along with the ALARM Survey*, shows that Britain’s roads are ill-prepared for the economic recovery and unfit for purpose for many road users, such as cyclists and motorcyclists.

It is unacceptable that each winter, whether it is frost or rain, our roads are crumbling and give way too easily.  Bad surfaces with millions of potholes can cause death and injury especially to those on two wheels and lead to expensive damage and insurance claims.

Government emergency handouts like those recently for pothole repairs are welcome but are a sticking plaster rather than a cure that will properly repair our roads for the future.  We must ensure that our politicians recognise the crisis as we come up to local and general elections.

The dire state of many UK roads has manifested itself in insurance claims processed by the AA’s insurance arm. Claims for pothole-related damage to cars on Britain’s crumbling country roads and city streets has risen more than five-fold from 1 January to 12 March, compared with November and December 2013.

Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, says:

It takes serious damage to justify making an insurance claim but over the first few weeks of 2014, an estimated 1,700 private cars have been damaged sufficiently seriously by potholes, to make it worth making a claim.

Insurers are taking an average of 173 insurance claims per week, compared with 33 per week over November and December last year, suggesting that the extreme weather has left the roads in a pretty poor state.

* Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey reports that the estimated cost to get the local road network in England and Wales back into reasonable condition will cost £12bn. Published by the Asphalt Industry Alliance, 3 April 2014.

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