More than half a million potholes were reported by members of the public to local authorities for repair last year, according to new research.
The RAC claimed the total is “shocking” and proves that “the condition of our roads is worsening”.
It obtained the data in Freedom of Information requests to the 212 councils responsible for roads in Britain.
More than 512,000 potholes were reported to the 161 authorities who provided comparable figures, up 44% on the 2015 figure of 356,000 potholes from 152 councils.
After extrapolating the numbers to take account of councils unable to respond with data, the RAC believes the increase in pothole reports over two years is 33%.
Damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs and distorted wheels are among the most common vehicle problems caused by potholes.
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “Our own analysis of breakdown data shows the damage suffered by motorists is a constant source of frustration and expense, but the scale of the problem is obviously far greater than the numbers show.
“Perhaps motorists are more inclined to report pothole defects than they were a few years ago, but we believe the sheer size of the increase is further proof the condition of our roads is worsening.”
He added that the figures are “just the tip of the iceberg” as thousands of potholes go unreported every year.
One in five local roads in England and Wales is in a poor condition and the frequency of road resurfacing has declined, a report by the Asphalt Industry Alliance warned.
The AA has called for learner drivers to have to prove they can spot potholes to pass the driving test.
Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s (LGA) transport spokesman, said councils are fixing a pothole every 21 seconds but need more funding to “embark on the widespread improvement of our roads that is desperately needed”.
He added: “The LGA has been calling on the Government to annually reinvest a portion of existing fuel duty into local road maintenance which would generate much-needed funding for councils to spend on addressing the £9.3 billion roads repair backlog.”
A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “Potholes are a huge problem for all road users and the Government is taking action, providing local authorities with more than £6.5 billion for roads maintenance and pothole repair in the six years to 2021.”