Potholes are a bigger safety issue than speeding or drink and drug driving.

This is the conclusion of new research conducted by IAM RoadSmart. It reveals potholes as a bigger problem than speeding, road rage, congestion or drink and drug driving.

The charity has published the findings of its annual Safety Culture survey. The report asked more than 2,000 motorists for their views of key road safety issues.

Growing problem

The survey found 79% of respondents perceived potholes to be a bigger issue for them than three years ago. Meanwhile, only 5% saw potholes as a smaller problem compared to last year.

It also found that 90% of respondents had been affected by potholes in the past year, with 32% stating they had even changed route to avoid them.

A further 16% of those surveyed stated that they have reported a pothole to the authorities.

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, said: “The fact that motorists perceive potholes to be a bigger issue compared to drink driving and speeding, which cause more deaths, goes to show how much of a problem the pothole crisis continues to be.

“Not only is damage to vehicles caused by potholes expensive and inconvenient, but it is also a major safety concern affecting all road users.

“In particular, potholes pose a serious risk of injury to those on two wheels, as well as potentially causing drivers to swerve into oncoming traffic.”

Long road to improvement

It is currently estimated that there are some 42,675 miles of UK roads classed as being in POOR structural condition. The cost to bring up to a level which they could be maintained cost effectively going forward is estimated at £11.14 billion, according to Asphalt Industry Alliance*.

These figures are also reflected by the attitudes in the report. Over eight in ten motorists in the North West and South West sharing the opinion that potholes are a bigger problem compared to three years ago (83% and 82% respectively). Meanwhile, only 69% of Londoners thought potholes were a bigger problem compared to three years ago.

Neil concluded: “Drivers are suffering from potholes problems every day and it is adding to the stress and cost of running a car. No one can enjoy their motoring anymore if the roads are in such poor condition.  The government must deliver on its promise to provide long term ring fenced funding for road maintenance so that the backlog can be eliminated in the foreseeable future. It is clear that such a policy would be very popular with millions of drivers across the UK.”


Perceptions of issues on roads compared to 3 years ago – How much of a problem are potholes compared to three years ago?

Region Percentage
Wales 84%
North West 83%
South West 82%
East Midlands 82%
West Midlands 81%
North East 81%
Yorkshire & Humber 81%
Scotland / Northern Ireland 80%
South East 79%
East of England 78%
London 69%