One Scottish council has said it responds to the most serious potholes “immediately”, but more than a third take up to 24 hours, a motoring research group has uncovered.
South Lanarkshire is among three British councils to take such prompt action – along with Cumbria and Flintshire – according to the RAC Foundation.
However, 12 Scottish local authorities do not take action for up to a day, the survey also revealed.
Second top with a 90-minute response time was North Lanarkshire, followed by Renfrewshire, Moray, East Ayrshire, Aberdeen, East Renfrewshire and Orkney at two hours.
The RAC Foundation said the most common response time was two hours.
Coventry City Council had the longest target time for severe pothole repairs, aiming to respond within five days.
The Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency, which is responsible for motorways and other major roads, said its maintenance firms were required to temporarily repair defects to make them safe by 6am on the day after being identified.
RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: “It is understandable that large rural authorities set themselves longer response times, simply as a result of having to travel further to effect repairs, but motorists might still be surprised to see such a wide variation across the country.
“Those particularly vulnerable to potholes – cyclists and motorcyclists – might ask whether the speed of pothole investigation should be based solely on the risk to users.”
The foundation found councils were increasingly adopting a “risk-based approach” to fixing road defects.
This means the volume of traffic and mix of road users is taken into account when deciding how quickly to act, as well as the size of a pothole.
Almost all authorities set minimum sizes for potholes before they will take action. These vary from between 20mm-30mm deep to at least 50mm deep.
The latest guidance from the UK Roads Liaison Group – a collaboration of both national and local government – recommends that primary, secondary and main distributor roads are inspected once a month, link roads once a quarter and local roads once a year.
Inspections aim to identify all road defects – not just potholes but also damaged or missing manhole covers and drain grates, and any damage to the edge of the carriageway.
Mr Gooding said: “It is good to see the vast majority of local authorities are adopting the best practice ‘risk-based’ approach recommended by the group, which is putting the risk to road users front and centre alongside the potential for a defect to develop into a bigger structural problem.
“The total number of potholes being filled in might still be limited by a shortage of funding, but this approach at least means those that are most dangerous are fixed first.”
The Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland, which represents roads officials, said: “Each council sets out its own response times and priorities for the repair of carriageway and other defects.
“These will vary because of differences in geography, population and traffic flows.”