Pothole update August 2023

Hole-y Moly! Summer washout sees August pothole incidents at their highest for five years

  • Third worst August and third worst summer for pothole incidents (145,726 from June to August).
  • Unseasonable weather contributed to 48,994 pothole-related incidents during August alone
  • Holiday misery for those who did make it away only to be faced with a garage bill
  • “2023 heading towards the podium of ‘Worst Year for Potholes’” says AA head of roads policy

18 September 2023

Potholes in rural areas and along holiday roads continued to take their toll on cars in August. The AA Pothole Index* shows that related breakdowns were 13% up on August last year.

This is despite large numbers of motorists cancelling day trips, weekend breaks and even holidays because of the bad weather this summer. AA research among its members found that 15% cancelled day trips and 6% gave up on weekend breaks or longer motoring holidays this summer because of the downpours.

The flip side of this is that rain and surface water will have hidden potholes and other defects on rural roads. That made it more likely that visitors on unfamiliar country lanes and minor roads would have dropped their vehicle in a hole.

As it currently stands, this year’s count of pothole-related breakdowns attended by AA patrols is already 61% of the way towards the podium-topping 665,702 annual toll set in 2018. So far this year, the AA has had to deal with more than 411,000 such incidents.

Pothole tracker aug 23

Councils in a race against time

While many local roads are still covered in holes, the councils responsible for them now find themselves in a race against time to repair as many as possible before the autumnal weather reaches Britain. Roads authorities lost numerous repair days this summer due to the wetter conditions, and are now keeping their fingers crossed for a dry spell to make up for lost time. The warm start to September could be the calm before the storm as roads deteriorate once the colder and wetter weather hits.

“2023 looks set to reach the podium of ‘Worst Year for Potholes’, but which colour medal remains to be seen”
Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said; “During what felt like a continuous spell of rain throughout August, drivers faced the now familiar challenge of trying to spot potholes lurking beneath the surface of rainwater. Some driver's attempts to avoid damage to tyres, suspensions and steering mechanisms appear to have been in vain as we witnessed another year-on-year increase in pothole-related incidents.

“Councils now have a very small window of time to get as much of their repair work carried out as possible before the real autumn and winter weather hits, meaning their road teams will need to work flat out to restore the roads before the weather really turns against them.

“2023 looks set to reach the podium of ‘Worst Year for Potholes’, but which colour medal remains to be seen. With this year’s running total of pothole-related breakdowns already at 411,168 compared to previous annual totals of 594,876 (2019) and 637,932 (2017), the current toll looks comfortable for a bronze at least. An awful autumn could see it make a dash for gold. That’s why, with the Autumn Statement due in November**, drivers and local councils alike will be hoping for some more pothole funding.”

* Information is taken from AA breakdown data

** Autumn Statement 2023 date confirmed - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)