11 May 2017
More than three quarters (76%) of drivers say that all potholes should be filled within a week, while almost a fifth (18%) believe that pothole repairs should all be completed within 24 hours.
An AA-Populus Driver Poll* of more than 18,000 AA members found that drivers think that councils should face more demanding targets when it comes to how long it takes to fill a pothole.
According to the Well-Managed Highways Infrastructure: A Code of Practice councils have to follow strict guidelines on the most dangerous potholes (Priority 1 or Priority 2) which must be repaired within a few hours.
Several months for lower priority repairs
However, when local authorities assess potholes, if the engineer categorises the defect as a lower, Priority 3 or Priority 4 issue, then it can take several months for repairs to be made. The length of time to repair potholes in these categories are self-determined by the local authority, so can vary from council to council.
As Central Government funding has been reduced to local authorities over recent years, some authorities have cut the numbers of road inspection engineers and decreased the frequency of road inspections.
According to the 2017 Asphalt Industry Alliance ALARM Report a one-time spend in excess of £12 billion is required to bring English and Welsh roads back to a safe standard.
Potholes can be deadly
A recent coroner’s report from Surrey highlighted a case where a cyclist was killed as a result of a pothole. The Highways Engineer gave the pothole a lower grading as it wasn’t within 1 metre of the kerb, but the coroner said that potholes should be treated equally across the whole road surface.
Edmund King, AA president says “Our members are clear that the worsening condition of our road network needs addressing quickly.
“Smooth highways don’t just help to keep compensation costs down, they can prevent deaths of vulnerable road users like cyclists and motorcyclists.
“The Surrey coroner’s report makes it clear that regardless of the location of a pothole, they can be deadly. Councils must ensure that all roads are safe to use, regardless of how you travel on them.”
With the General Election just around the corner, it would be an ideal time for all parties to tell the public how they intend to maintain, repair and improve our roads
King continues “It can’t be right that one council could fill a lower-risk pothole within three weeks while a neighbouring council needs four weeks. Councils should have a backstop deadline, set with emphasis on carrying out the repairs more quickly.
“With the General Election just around the corner, it would be an ideal time for all parties to tell the public how they intend to maintain, repair and improve our roads.
“Whoever forms the Government on 9 June, they will need to act fast or we will continue to have moon-like craters on our roads into the next parliament.”
* Populus received 18,077 responses from AA members to its online poll between the 26 April and 3 May 2017.
Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.