Research reveals seven in 10 drivers feel potholes are a bigger problem today compared to five years ago
Seven in 10 drivers feel potholes are a bigger problem today compared to five years ago, a new survey suggests. This figure comes from results of our independent study where we asked 100 motorists about their opinions on the current pothole epidemic. Each day, new potholes are emerging, and many drivers continue to feel frustrated about the deteriorating state of our roads.
How severe is the pothole epidemic?
Currently, the UK is suffering from a pothole epidemic and the number of reported potholes has reached a record high. According to new Freedom of Information data obtained by Confused.com, over 905,000 potholes were reported to local authorities across the UK in 2017/18. This is equivalent to almost 2,500 per day, on average. Also, this data showed that South East England is the most prolific region in the UK when it comes to potholes, with more than 122,000 reported to local authorities in 2017/18.
We also asked Confused.com for their opinion on the current pothole epidemic.
Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com comments, “Our roads are rife with potholes and road defects. Councils dished out £3 million in compensation for pothole-related vehicle damage last year alone.
“Our roads aren’t getting any better - the number of potholes reported in the UK has increased by 2% year-on-year. It’s a battle councils are continuously fighting.
“It’s confusing to know what to do when we spot a bump in the road. Who should we report it to? Who owns the road? The first call should be to report it to your local council.
“Reporting potholes can help councils realise the scale of the issue and make a bid for extra funding. This will inevitably go some way to improving our roads.”
If you'd like to find out more about the depth of the UK's pothole problem, click here to see an interactive map by Confused.com.
Too Many Vehicles Suffer Pothole Damage
Further research by Confused.com revealed that 34% of UK drivers have suffered damage to their vehicle as a result of poor road conditions. 53% of the reported damage was to the vehicle’s tyres and 26% was reported damage to the vehicle suspension. This problem continues to result in high numbers of compensation claims for vehicle damage being made to local authorities each year. Also, the RAC reported that RAC patrols dealt with 1,714 breakdowns in the last three months of 2018 that were more than likely caused by potholes or poor road surfaces.
Our study supports these findings that large numbers of vehicles are suffering from pothole damage.In fact, 42% of our participants answered 'yes' to "Has your vehicle suffered pothole damage within the last 12 months?". In particular, one person mentioned experiencing 5 tyre punctures within 12 months which would understandably cause frustration to any motorist.
How is the pothole epidemic impacting driver behaviour?
Potholes appear to be having a major impact on driver behaviour. Have you ever noticed a driver swerving to avoid a pothole? Well, this is becoming a frequent occurrence on our roads which is dangerous. However, some drivers feel this is the only way to avoid their vehicle being damaged by massive potholes.
Our study revealed 69% of motorists 'often' or 'on a daily basis' swerve whilst driving to avoid potholes. Swerving can put the lives of all road users at risk as motorists often partially drive onto the opposite side of the road to avoid hitting potholes. This is a worrying statistic which needs to be reduced.
As well, we found 60% of motorists 'sometimes' or 'often' avoid driving on certain roads due to the high number of potholes. This might help them to avoid major potholes but longer routes will use extra fuel. This adds unnecessary cost to motorists' fuel expenses which I'm sure they would love to avoid.
How are potholes impacting driver safety?
Our study revealed that 15% of motorists have been involved, or witnessed a collision which they felt was caused by the state of the road. Potholes are often extremely hazardous, not only causing damage to vehicles, but also contributing to the cause of some road accidents. According to the data obtained by Confused.com, 28% drivers have had an accident or near-miss caused by a pothole. This is often due to drivers losing control when they hit a pothole or pothole damage to vehicles such as tyre’s bursting.
The graph above shows how participants of our study felt about this statement. We found 82% of motorists either 'strongly agree' or 'agree' that the increasing number of potholes is putting drivers at danger, whereas only 2% of motorists disagreed with this statement. It's clear that many drivers feel concerned about the state of our roads and the worrying rise in the number of potholes.
Is the Government making road maintenance enough of a priority?
As part of the budget in 2018, the government announced that an extra £420m will be available to tackle the growing number of potholes. However, it is thought this won’t be enough for a one-time fix of all the potholes across the UK.
From our independent study, we found 78% of motorists felt the Government hasn’t made road maintenance enough of a priority. This is exceptionally higher than the 7% of motorists who answered ‘yes’ to this question.
We recognise that a quick one-time fix of all the potholes is unrealistic and therefore we wanted to find out which roads motorists feel should be made a priority to repair. We asked participants of our study which type of roads they're most concerned about potholes on. It revealed a broad consensus that potholes on main roads should be a priority. As well, almost 1/4 of motorists felt potholes on side roads should be a priority. In particular, one person mentioned feeling that the government has made road maintenance a priority but the wrong type of roads. Do you share a similar opinion on this?
Chris Smith, our Commercial Director at GB Vehicle Leasing said:"The results of our survey concerning the continuing demise of the condition of road surfaces throughout the UK will come as little surprise to the broader motoring public.
For many years following several harsh winters , the pothole epidemic has been growing and has reached the stage where local authorities coupled with the Highways Agency are unable to keep pace with the continuing deterioration of roads. This applies to a wide range of differing road types and although it would appear that repairs to Motorways and major A roads are quite rightly prioritised , other still popular and busy routes are largely left untreated.
The problem seems to be common to both rural and urban communities where drivers are plagued with often potentially dangerous road conditions which encourage drivers to sometimes take evasive action to avoid damage to their vehicles."
Chris added: "Our experience as a large supplier of vehicles to the business and consumer sectors is that increasing numbers of customers are taking advantage of fully inclusive service and maintenance contracts which include unlimited tyre replacements including punctures.
Clearly the experience of drivers generally is that the incidence of unrepairable punctures is increasing in line with the ongoing pothole issue .
The ability to effectively insure against unwanted and unfair charges as a result of poor road conditions is providing additional comfort to our customers against unquantifiable costs.
We are all hopeful that the relevant authorities will redouble their efforts to improve the standards of all UK highways but it maybe a difficult challenge with other worthy and important avenues for cash strapped national and local government bodies.
In the meantime we believe it is well worth looking to protect motorists pockets by considering the option of a full maintained lease contract."
Although local councils are working to improve poor road conditions, there seems to be insufficient resources to suppress this issue. It's evident that the pothole epidemic is not only causing damage to many vehicles, but also having a considerable impact on driver behaviour and safety. So what do you think of the current pothole epidemic? Are you, like many other drivers, concerned about the poor road conditions?
Below is our infographic showing the key findings from our independent study about the current pothole epidemic. If you'd like to share our infographic please ensure that you link and cite this page.