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A survey carried out by the AA has revealed that almost two out of every five drivers had their vehicles damaged by potholes over the past two years.

Thirty-nine per cent of AA members have had their tyres, wheels, bodywork or other parts of their vehicles damaged after hitting a pothole in the past 24 months. The incidents led to crashes on 24 occasions, the owners claim.

Of the 9,723 drivers, from an AA Populus panel sample of 25,208 respondents (16-23 February 2016), whose vehicles came to grief after encountering a pothole:

  • 39% suffered just tyre damage,
  • 18% had to deal with a damaged tyre and wheel,
  • 28% a damaged tyre, wheel and tracking,
  • 13% other damage, such as suspension
  • 4% had to make bodywork repairs, on top of other damage

A staggering 46% of car, van and motor cycle owners in Scotland have had their vehicles damaged by potholes in the past two years. Drivers in other parts of the UK have fared little better, with percentages of those affected showing:

  • Scotland – 46%
  • Yorkshire and Humberside – 41%
  • North West, East Midlands, South East – 40%
  • South West – 38%
  • West Midlands – 37%
  • North East – 35%
  • Wales and Northern Ireland – 34%
  • East Anglia – 33%
  • London – 32%

AA president Edmund King said: “Government special pothole crisis funds in recent years have been welcome but have only papered over the cracks on Britain’s roads. Autumn statement figures show that the financial year 2014/15 was estimated to have raised £27.2 billion from fuel duty, almost as much as business rates £27.3bn and not far off council tax receipts of £27.9bn. Yet, in 2013/14, there was a £273m reduction in local authority expenditure on routine maintenance compared to the higher spending years in the last decade. Austerity-driven cuts in highway maintenance budgets just delay the inevitable – crumbling roads, vehicle damage and then emergency maintenance.

“As a priority, local authorities need to get to grips with fundamental road maintenance such as poor drainage and fixing crumbling and pothole-ridden surfaces. Cynically, drivers may be beginning to wonder if excessive traffic calming is actually more about trying to reduce the impact and subsequent compensation claims when vehicles and bicycles fall in the potholes that appear every winter.”

Responding to an AA survey on potholes, Local Government Association transport spokesman Cllr Peter Box said: “Councils fix more potholes than ever, one every 15 seconds, and keeping roads safe is one of the most important jobs we do.

However, the £12 billion backlog of road repairs would already take councils more than a decade to clear. Councils are doing their best to focus their limited resources on carrying out more cost-effective and longer-term improvements. Current funding levels, however, and the size of the backlog mean they can only keep pace with patching up our roads and filling potholes.

“Long-term and consistent investment in local road maintenance is desperately needed in the Budget to improve road conditions for all users.”