AA Pothole Index

Record breaker: Worst October in history for pothole breakdowns

  • AA patrols attended a record 52,541 pothole call-outs during October
  • 96% of drivers support calls for increased investment in road repairs
  • Storm Babet rainfall contributes to a 12% increase in wheel, tyre and suspension damage by covering road damage

27 November 2023

October 2023 has won the dubious honour of the worst October in history for pothole-related breakdowns, according to the latest AA Pothole Index.

The AA’s five-star patrols attended 52,5411 pothole-related breakdowns last month, a 12% increase compared to October last year while edging out the previous record holder of October 2017 by 389 call-outs. The cumulative total for 2023 stands at more than half a million (510,932), averaging 1,591 a day.

Pothole graph 27 11 23

Source: AA breakdown data October 2017 – 2023

A recent AA survey2 of 11,678 drivers showed that 96% of respondents supported calls for increased investment in road repairs, particularly potholes - again, highlighting the urgent need for the state of Britain’s roads to be addressed by the government and local councils.

With the recent series of storms continuing to bring heavy rain and wind, there appears to be no let-up in the danger levels for road users, particularly cyclists and motorcyclists who are often forced to ride through puddles without knowing what lies under the surface.

“Continuous poor weather and storms such as Babet, Cairan and Debi are having a two-fold effect on driving conditions.”
Tony Rich, AA public relations manager

Last week, the government announced the long-term funding of local roads maintenance across England, with the redistribution of £8.3 billion of HS2 money3. This much-needed boost to local roads investment is long overdue and should help reduce the number of pothole claims.

Tony Rich, AA public relations manager, said: “Continuous poor weather and storms such as Babet, Cairan and Debi are having a two-fold effect on driving conditions. What feels like relentless rainwater is covering and increasing the severity of potholes while holding back essential road repairs by rightly diverting roads maintenance crews to tackle fallen trees and flooded areas.

“The £8.3 billion Road Maintenance Fund will offer some respite for drivers, but with the first instalment not being made until April 2024, the funding can’t come soon enough. We are also pleased that councils will be encouraged to use the money to resurface streets rather than patch and run. Ensuring the structural integrity of the roads is key to road safety.

Until then, our advice to drivers and those on two wheels is to avoid puddles where safe to do so, but if there is no alternative other than to travel through, then reduce your speed and keep an increased distance from the vehicle in front.”

1 Information is taken from AA breakdown data

2 Yonder received 11,678 responses from AA members to its online poll between 6 - 10 October 2023. Yonder is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

3 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/8-billion-boost-to-repair-roads-and-back-drivers