AA/Populus Panel

Road condition is worse than a decade ago

3 June 2008

Two-thirds of AA members across Britain say road surfaces are in a worse state than they were 10 years ago. Forty per cent said they were much worse, according to the latest results from the AA/Populus panel.

The findings from the UK's largest motoring opinion panel, comprised of 17,500 motorists1, also show that only two per cent thought road condition had improved considerably, with 11% saying that surface condition had improved slightly. Just under a fifth of the panel thought conditions were unchanged.

Male drivers in particular thought that road condition was much worse (42%) compared to females (34%). Of those who thought conditions had improved, young drivers were most likely to agree (20%) but the more experienced drivers, aged between 45 and 64, were far less likely to think so (11%).

Across the UK's regions, AA members in Yorkshire and Humberside said that roads had deteriorated most (68%). However, a remarkable quarter of drivers in Northern Ireland said that road condition had improved, although almost a third still felt condition had worsened considerably. Scottish drivers in the survey reported least improvement (9%).

Regional/national breakdown of findings


Region Worse (%) Better (%) No change (%)
London 65 13 20
South 62 12 23
South West 64 13 21
Wales 56 18 24
East Midlands 58 15 25
East Anglia 60 14 24
Yorks & Humberside 68 11 18
North West 64 14 22
North East 54 17 27
West Midlands 64 12 21
Scotland 55 9 14
Northern Ireland 52 25 22


AA Comment

Edmund King, President of the AA said, "Britain's motorists are paying record levels of taxation and yet receive poor value for money. These findings from the AA/Populus survey come as a stark reminder that, despite some extra government funding for road maintenance at the start of the decade, the cash is nowhere enough for drivers to see real improvement in road condition.

"Road maintenance must no longer be the poor relation when it comes to funding whether it is at local authority or national government level. Skimping can cost lives and not a single one should be lost on the roads for want of a pothole being filled or surface renewed".

Notes to Editors

1 AA/Populus panel of 17,481 AA members conducted between 14 March - 9 April 2008

  • There are an estimated 1 million potholes on Britain's Roads.
  • There is an estimated £1bn shortfall in road maintenance budgets.
  • There is an 11 year road maintenance backlog.
  • Some £65m is paid out annually in compensation claims (AIA Alarm Survey April 2008)

According to the Government's National Road Maintenance Condition Survey 2006, roads in the North-East of England are in worse condition and those in best condition are in the South-West of England.

In 20 years the amount of surface dressing carried out in England and Wales has halved - a relief to drivers as it is a messy process, but for the road it means condition may worsen due to water seeping in and poorer skid resistance.

Fifty per cent of London's principal roads and 19 per cent of those in England have skidding resistance at a level that requires further safety checks.

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30 May 2008