The RAC has issued data shoing that potholes are on the increase, and motorists are paying the price in suspension and bodywork repairs. There have been no major attempts to repair roads whilst traffic levels are reduced during lockdown. Obviously site safety is important, but re-surfacing sections of road can be carried out using social distancing.
Data from the RAC Pothole Index shows a massive 64% increase in the opening three months of 2020, with 1,337 cars damaged by potholes, compared to October to December 2019 (2,089) and 150 more than the first quarter last year (3,276) – a rise of 4.5%.
The start of the coronavirus lockdown – which came into force on 23rd March – however meant there were nine days when far fewer cars were on the country’s roads, so the actual number of pothole-related breakdowns may have been higher under normal conditions.
In the first quarter of 2020 breakdowns resulting from damaged shock absorbers, broken springs and distorted wheels that are most likely to be attributable to poor road surfaces made up 1.6% of all the RAC’s call-outs for its individual members. This was considerably up on Q4 2019 when the figure stood at 0.9% and marginally up on the same period a year ago – 1.5%.
The RAC’s Pothole Index, which is an accurate long-term indicator of the health of the UK’s roads, suggests the overall standard of the roads has improved a little as the Index currently stands at 1.6, down from 2.3 in the same period last year and slightly down on Q4 2019 (1.7). This does mean however that drivers are still 1.6 times more likely to break down as a result of pothole-related damage than they were back in 2006 when the RAC first started collecting data.
While winter was relatively mild overall, the UK suffered catastrophic flooding in some areas between November 2019 and February 2020, which is bound to have taken its toll on overall road surface quality.
To report a pothole, or to find out if you suffer from damage from one and wonder if you can claim for compensation, visit the RAC’s pothole online guide. The RAC has also published a guide on looking after cars during the pandemic.