Blocked drains and flooded roads

Drivers send councils a warning shot on persistent puddles, pools and ponds on Britain’s highways

Drivers send councils a warning shot on persistent puddles, pools and ponds on Britain’s highways

Drivers send councils a warning shot on persistent puddles, pools and ponds on Britain’s highways

Attempts to convince council-tax-paying motorists that ponds and lakes on UK roads this winter are a one-off event fail to hold water with more than two thirds of AA members.

While 68% of 23,700 AA-Populus survey respondents are prepared to accept that extreme weather has contributed to roads turning into watercourses, 67% blame councils for not maintaining drains well enough.

However, 37% of the sample feel strongly that road authorities have let them down. This compares with 23% who strongly argue that relentlessly bad weather is the reason why ponds and pools of water have replaced potholes as this winter’s main menace for drivers.

Becoming accepted

Disturbingly, the survey suggests that flooding on roads is now becoming accepted as part of the driving landscape in the UK. It finds that 71% of the AA members support the view (24% strongly) that “there are one or two notorious spots where big puddles develop on the road but everyone local knows about them and just deals with them”.

Even so, more than half of the drivers (51%) agree that heavy rains turn the roads around where they live into a perilous patchwork of ponds and puddles.

Cards are marked

The AA concludes that a majority of its members are prepared to cut local authorities some slack due to the amount of water on roads this winter, but councils’ cards are marked if poor drainage persists in the future.

Consequently, the AA will carry out the same survey next winter to see if its members feel that the state of roads has improved or remains prone to flooding.

If they are well-known, why haven’t road authorities dealt with them – before an unwary non-local driver comes to grief

Edmund King, AA president

Enquiry into transport resilience

“Inevitably, after this winter’s appalling weather, there will be an enquiry into the resilience of the UK’s transport network. Part of that will have to include road drainage. The Pitt review of the flooding in the summer of 2007 found that there was a lack of data about drainage systems and who was responsible for them,” says Edmund King, the AA’s president.

“It is worrying that nearly three quarters of AA members say that, when it rains heavily, they know of stretches of local road almost guaranteed to become water-logged. If they are well-known, why haven’t road authorities dealt with them – before an unwary non-local driver comes to grief.

National and regional

“Most damning in the argument that road authorities let down drivers is the strength of response in areas that were relatively unaffected by extreme rainfall. Almost 48% of AA members across the North say that, when it rains, pools of water create a real menace to drivers and 69% agree that councils don’t seem to clear drains as well as they used to.”

There are one or two notorious spots where big puddles develop on the road but everyone local knows about them and deals with it:

  • Scotland: Agree 73% (strongly 26%, slightly 46%)
  • North East: Agree 71% (strongly 24%, slightly 48%)
  • North West: Agree 69% (strongly 22%, slightly 47%)
  • Yorks & Humberside: Agree 67% (strongly 21%, slightly 46%)
  • West Midlands: Agree 72% (strongly 25%, slightly 47%)
  • East Midlands: Agree 69% (strongly 23%, slightly 46%)
  • Wales: Agree 70% (strongly 26%, slightly 44%)
  • East Anglia: Agree 70% (strongly 23%, slightly 47%)
  • London: Agree 56% (strongly 15%, slightly 40%)
  • South East: Agree 76% (strongly 27%, slightly 49%)
  • South West: Agree 76% (strongly 28%, slightly 48%)
  • Northern Ireland: Agree 65% (strongly 22%, slightly 43%)
  • National figure: 71% agree

When it rains heavily, the roads around where I live become pockmarked with pools of water creating a real driving menace:

  • Scotland: Agree 54% (strongly 20%, slightly 34%)
  • North East: Agree 50% (strongly 19%, slightly 31%)
  • North West: Agree 47% (strongly 15%, slightly 32%)
  • Yorks & Humberside: Agree 46% (strongly 15%, slightly 31%)
  • West Midlands: Agree 50% (strongly 16%, slightly 34%)
  • East Midlands: Agree 46% (strongly 13%, slightly 32%)
  • Wales: Agree  53% (strongly 20%, slightly 33%)
  • East Anglia: Agree 50% (strongly 16%, slightly 34%)
  • London: Agree 37% (strongly 11%, slightly 26%)
  • South East: Agree 57% (strongly 22%, slightly 36%)
  • South West: Agree 60% (strongly 24%, slightly 36%)
  • Northern Ireland: Agree 46% (strongly 18%, slightly 28%)
  • National figure: 51% agree

(28 February 2014)

AA-Populus survey, conducted between 20-27 January 2014