Pothole-related car breakdowns up by almost 10pc

A road cone marking off a pothole on a road in Yorkshire
Common problems caused by potholes include damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs and distorted wheels - motion picture library/ paul ridsdale /Alamy Stock Photo

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The number of car breakdowns caused by potholes has increased by almost 10 per cent in a year, new figures have revealed.

About 27,200 calls to broken-down cars disabled by pockmarked roads were received by the RAC in the 12 months to the end of March.

This compares to 24,900 call-outs during the previous 12 months, the breakdown organisation said.

Common problems caused by potholes include damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs and distorted wheels.

Pothole-related callouts decreased by more than a fifth in the first three months of this year compared with the same period in 2023, but the RAC said that this was because milder weather had reduced instances of road damage.

Simon Williams, the RAC’s head of policy, said: “While our data shows pothole damage to vehicles in the first three months of this year is lower than it was in the same period in 2023, it’s important not to lose sight of the bigger picture and the ongoing miserable state of our roads.”

Potholes usually form when water freezes and expands after entering cracks in the road surface.

Mr Williams added: “Our analysis clearly shows drivers are now twice as likely to suffer a breakdown due to sub-standard road surfaces as they were in 2006.

“While many would rightly say the roads are terrible, we believe they would have been far worse had we not had such a mild winter.”

In October, the Government announced that £8.3 billion from the cancellation of the HS2 railway line’s northern leg would be used in the next decade to fix potholes in England.

The cost of bringing pothole-plagued local roads in England and Wales up to scratch has been estimated at £16.3 billion.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “Local highway authorities are responsible for maintaining their road networks, but we are supporting them with £8.3 billion of reallocated HS2 funding over the next 10 years, the biggest ever increase in funding for local road improvements which comes on top of an existing £5.5 billion fund.

“Local authorities received the first £150 million of this increase within weeks of announcing our additional funding in October, and will receive a further £150 million this year to continue improving local roads.”

Darren Rodwell, the transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, said that councils were worried about the state of their roads and called on the Government to change how it funds pothole repairs.

He said: “Councils share the concerns of all road users with the state of our roads and are doing all they can to tackle the £16.3 billion backlog of road repairs, including learning from and adopting innovative techniques.

“The Government should award council highways departments five-yearly funding allocations, to bring them on a par with National Highways, to give more certainty so they can develop resurfacing programmes and other highways improvements, to help them tackle the scourge of potholes.”