October 2023 was the worst October in history for pothole-related breakdowns, according to the latest AA Pothole Index. Its patrols attended 52,5411 pothole-related breakdowns – a 12 per cent increase compared to October 2022 and trumping the previous record holder of October 2017 by 389 callouts. The total for 2023 to date stands at more than half a million (510,932), averaging 1,591 a day.
The AA said the recent spate of storms and continued heavy rain had contributed to the rise in pothole breakdowns by covering road damage with puddles.
Tony Rich, AA public relations manager, said:
Continuous poor weather and storms such as Babet, Cairan and Debi are having a two-fold effect on driving conditions. What feels like relentless rainwater is covering and increasing the severity of potholes while holding back essential road repairs by rightly diverting roads maintenance crews to tackle fallen trees and flooded areas.
The Government has pledged funding of local roads maintenance across England, with the redistribution of £8.3bn of HS2 money – the AA has said that boost to local roads investment should help reduce the number of pothole claims but warned that it was long overdue.
The £8.3bn Road Maintenance Fund will offer some respite for drivers, but with the first instalment not being made until April 2024, the funding can’t come soon enough. We are also pleased that councils will be encouraged to use the money to resurface streets rather than patch and run. Ensuring the structural integrity of the roads is key to road safety.
Until then, our advice to drivers and those on two wheels is to avoid puddles where safe to do so, but if there is no alternative other than to travel through, then reduce your speed and keep an increased distance from the vehicle in front.