Sir Rod Stewart is not the only driver struggling with potholes.

New research reveals the increasingly costly damage caused by poor road surfaces.

The annual PIT Report (Pothole Impact Tracker) for Kwik Fit, shows that the costs to British drivers has risen to a staggering £1.7 billion.

This is a 35% increase on the previous year (£1.2bn). The rise can, in part, be explained by the higher traffic volumes in the last twelve months following the lockdown. However, it is notable that the latest figure is nearly half a billion pounds higher than in the year before Covid hit. It comes despite average daily car traffic remaining below those pre-pandemic levels. In fact, it is the biggest total seen since Kwik Fit began tracking the cost annually in 2013.

Source: Research for Kwik Fit 

Rough roads

The number of British drivers experiencing pothole problems continues to rise. Research finds that 59% of drivers say they have hit at least one pothole a week over the last year, up from 46% in 2021. Some 13.3 million motorists say their car has suffered damage in the last year as a result of a pothole impact. The average individual repair bill comes to £132.

Of the 13.3 million drivers who experienced damage after a pothole impact, the research found that 50% faced damage to their tyres. This was followed by wheel damage in 29% of cases, damaged suspension (29%) and steering (18%).

For 12% of drivers facing with damage the impact was severe enough to also cause bodywork damage. Furthermore, for one in ten (10%) engine damage also occurred.

Getting worse

Almost three times as many drivers think road conditions have deteriorated in the last year, as believe they have got better. Some 46% of drivers say the road surfaces have got worse in the last twelve months, compared to 16% who say they have improved.

London is the only region of the country to buck this trend. In the capital, 30% of drivers say the road surfaces are better than one year ago, compared to 25% who say they are worse.

Unknown toll

Although the damage caused may be instantly apparent, in many cases the effect can be hidden. Damage to tyre walls, or slow punctures for instance, that could result in a tyre failure at high speed. Similarly, if wheels are knocked slightly out of alignment it can compromise handling and cause uneven tyre wear, but it may take time for this to become obvious.

says: “The total cost of potholes to the nation’s drivers is rising,” says Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit. “Worsening road surfaces, the impact of inflation on individual repair costs and car use getting back to near pre-pandemic levels. We all know there are huge demands on public finances at the moment, but the reality is that drivers have been consistently calling for a strategic plan to effectively bring our roads up to scratch for many years. It is not sufficient to just carry out emergency patching of the worst areas – this is always going to be a case of papering over the cracks.”

See it, report it

If you see a pothole, report it as councils can only rectify a problem if they are aware of it. For England and Wales the Government has a central webpage which will direct drivers to the correct authority if they are unsure who is responsible. The Scottish Government offering an equivalent service north of the border.