Potholes are increasingly a window of concern for motorists.

Dilapidated road surfaces are an increasing nuisance and danger, significantly more than they were three years ago. Overtaking, texting and drink driving are also worsening problems according to new findings by IAM RoadSmart.

Drivers Speak

The organisation’s annual ‘Safety Culture Report’, which tracks drivers’ changing attitudes to key road safety issues over time, discovered that 75% now see potholes to be a bigger issue than three years ago. This was followed by driver distraction (68%) – such as texting or talking on a mobile phone – and traffic congestion (65%).

Around nine in ten (89%) of drivers have been affected by potholes over the last year. It has led to more than one in three (31%) drivers changing their route to avoid potholed roads. Worryingly, more than half (54%) have had to steer away or brake hard to avoid impact and damage.

Road Safety Concerns

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart Director of Policy & Research, said: “The pothole situation on UK roads has now become much more than just irritating, it’s a significant threat to personal safety.

“We simply can’t have vehicles swerving into oncoming traffic or slamming on their brakes without warning to avoid them. Deteriorating roads also put pedestrians and cyclists at greater risk.

“It is clearly a sign of the times when motorists perceive potholes to be a bigger growing concern to them than drink driving and texting. And while the statistics show that the devastating impacts of using a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or using a mobile phone when driving still remain, it does highlight that it is time for government to take potholes seriously and fix the UK’s road network.”

A National Nuisance

Regionally, eight in ten (81%) motorists in the South East considered potholes an increasing safety concern. Around six in ten in London (61%) and the North East (64%) consider it a growing problem.

It is estimated that there are some 42,675 miles of UK roads classed as being in POOR structural condition. The cost of bringing them up to standard is an estimated £11.14 billion. This would to bring them up to a level which they could be maintained cost effectively going forward. These figures are contained in the annual Asphalt Industry Alliance* report.

Despite the potential for damage, only around one in ten (12%) in the IAM survey say they have suffered pothole damage to their car.

With only 16% of those questioned ever reporting a pothole to the authorities, the problems seem set to continue.