The number of vehicles damaged by potholes jumped at the of 2019, according to new data from the RAC.

More than 2,000 call-outs in the final quarter of 2019 were related to problems caused by potholes – 300 more than in the same period in 2018.

In 2019, it dealt with 9,200 cases of pothole-related faults such as distorted wheels, broken suspensions springs and damaged shock absorbers – a pattern likely to be echoed by other assistance services.

While this was down from 13,000 in 2018, a year which saw a dramatic increase in potholes following the so-called ‘Beast from the East’, it still represented 1.1% of all breakdowns and the RAC’s Pothole Index, suggests there has been little overall improvement. It currently stands at 1.7, down from 1.8 in the third quarter of 2019. This means drivers are 1.7 times more likely to break down as a result of pothole-related damage than they were back in 2006 when the RAC first started collecting data.

Despite the relatively mild winter experienced in the UK so far, the RAC is concerned that the inevitable arrival of colder conditions in the next few months will likely trigger a widespread outbreak of yet more potholes, causing expensive damage to thousands of vehicles.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “We might so far be experiencing a milder but wetter winter than in the last couple of years, but our figures clearly show the problem of potholes has not gone away. Our patrols are still attending on average around one pothole-related breakdown every hour of the day.

“We anticipate the Government will pledge further funds to help cash-strapped councils mend potholes in the March Budget, but such pledges are only chipping away at the problem, and they’re unfortunately not addressing the root cause of why so much of the UK is still characterised by crumbling road surfaces.

“What we need is for central Government to think differently about how councils are funded to maintain the roads under their control. Short-term commitments of cash, while welcome, are not enough on their own – councils need the security of long-term funding so they can plan proper preventative road maintenance.

“Pothole-free roads shouldn’t be a ‘nice to have’ in 2020, drivers should surely be able to expect the vast majority of roads they drive on to be of a good standard, especially given they pay around £40bn in motoring-related tax every year.”

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