Pothole-related breakdowns persist despite 60 per cent drop in traffic

Patrols rescued 1,766 drivers whose vehicles had fallen foul of potholes between April and June

The RAC attended the same proportion of pot-hole related breakdowns as were attended in the second quarter of 2019, despite the country being in various stages of lockdown from April to the end of June in the fight against COVID-19.

While overall motor traffic volumes were down by as much 60 per cent in the second quarter of 2020 according to government data, pothole-related call-outs during this period still made up 1.1 per cent of all breakdowns attended by the RAC.

In contrast to the first quarter of the year when RAC patrols went to the aid of 3,426 drivers who suffered damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs or distorted wheels (equal to 1.6 per cent of all breakdowns), the drop in the number of pothole breakdowns between April and June is, however, significant.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “On the surface, these statistics appear encouraging because they make it seem as though the quality of our roads hasn’t worsened, but when you consider how few vehicles were on the road, they are a real cause for concern.

“We would have hoped to have seen a far bigger drop in the share of pothole-related breakdowns than we would do normally at this time of year, but instead it was just the same as usual.”

The RAC’s Pothole Index suggests the overall standard of the roads improved very slightly in Q2 2020 with the Index reducing from 1.65 to 1.59, down from 2.04 in the same period last year – the lowest since Q1 2008, the point at which the state of the UK’s roads began to grow steadily worse.

The worst time for potholes – or ‘peak pothole’ – occurred in Q1 2010 when drivers were 3.5 times more likely to break down as a result of pothole-related damage than they were back in 2006.

At this time pothole-related call-outs accounted for 1.9 per cent of the RAC’s entire fault mix – a percentage which was topped in Q1 2017 with a figure of 2.7 per cent, also making it one of the worst times for encountering potholes on the UK’s roads.

Nicholas Lyes continued: “Looking at our breakdown data in regard to pothole damage the long-term trend is clearly down which is good news for everyone who uses the roads.

“But we were very surprised by how many of these call-outs we dealt with during lockdown considering the vast majority of our work in this period was helping motorists with flat batteries at home as a result of vehicles being used so little.”

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