Alarm raised after surprise increase in vehicle pothole damage

Planting flowers in potholes is becoming a popular way of highlighting the road safety danger. Picture: SWNS
Planting flowers in potholes is becoming a popular way of highlighting the road safety danger. Picture: SWNS
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Breakdowns linked to holes in the road soared by nearly two-thirds from January to March compared to last year, the RAC reported today.

It indicates the bane of every driver’s life has become an even greater nightmare with the surprise increase in pothole damage to vehicles this winter.

The motoring group said the 63 per cent increase had been unexpected because of this year’s drier winter.

However, it expressed concern because the 6,500 incidents across the UK amount to the highest proportion of its call-outs for at least 11 years.

Damage included broken suspension springs, damaged shock absorbers and distorted wheels.

No Scottish figures were available, but public spending watchdogs said last year motorways and other trunk roads north of the Border were in a significantly worse state than in England.

RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “Our figures sadly show a surprising and unwelcome first quarter rise in the number of breakdowns where the poor quality of the road surface was a major factor.

“It is very concerning that the roads, strangely, appear to have deteriorated in a mild, comparatively dry winter.

“Anyone that has experienced a breakdown as a result of hitting a pothole will know just how frustrating that can be – not to say dangerous and expensive if damage to their vehicle is sustained.”

Audit Scotland reported last August that Scotland’s motorways were in a worse condition and deteriorating faster than other roads.

The proportion of motorways which need resurfacing increased from 30 to 42 per cent in three years compared to an unchanged 37 per cent for other roads.

Neil Greig, the Scottish-based policy and research director of the IAM RoadSmart motoring group, said: “Only a firm and costed commitment to remove the backlog in the foreseeable future will deliver the high-quality roads drivers already pay so much for but far too often fail to find.”

Transport Scotland, which is responsible for trunk roads, said it had increased maintenance spending this year to more than £199 million.

A spokeswoman said: “This will allow more repairs to be carried out to road surfaces to address potholes and other defects, as well as safety work, inspections and bridge maintenance which will all help extend the life of the network.

“Local authorities are responsible for the maintenance of local roads.

“They to decide how to spend their budgets according to local needs and priorities.”

A spokesman for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities said: “Scotland’s councils are committed to maintaining our local roads in as good a condition as is possible.

“This is not a simple task and roads have to compete with other demands on budgets.”