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potholes in the hazard perception test

Mirror, signal, pothole, manoeuvre

Learner lessons and driving tests are being abandoned due to potholes

2 July 2018

Potholes should be included in the hazard perception test and Highway Code as the plague on UK roads is now negatively affecting learner drivers, according to The AA. 

Pothole ridden roads are causing driving tests to be abandoned, lessons to be adapted and special advice dished out to learner drivers, according to a poll of AA Driving School and BSM instructors.

In the survey, all who responded said they encounter pothole ridden roads on every or most driving lessons. The majority also said they have broken down during a lesson at least once in the last 12 months because of pothole damage. Damage to their tyres, wheels and suspension were the most common problems caused.

Big pothole 640

Avoiding certain roads

Many also said they adapt lessons now to avoid certain roads because the potholes are so bad; have heard of examiners pointing out potholes to those on their tests and have had pupils abandon their driving test because the car was damaged by a pothole. 

Potholes are now so endemic on our roads that the UK’s largest provider of driver training, The AA, wants potholes to be included in the hazard perception part of the driving test. And for advice about how to safely navigate potholes to be included in the Highway Code.

Damaging to learners’ confidence

Edmund King, AA President, said: “It is a sad indictment of our poor road conditions that instructors are having to adapt their lessons to avoid potholed roads.

More troubling is the fact that lessons and tests are being abandoned because of pothole related breakdowns. This is damaging to learners’ confidence and to instructors whose livelihoods depend on having a fit-for-purpose road network and an undamaged car. 

Edmund king, president of the AA

“More troubling is the fact that lessons and tests are being abandoned because of pothole related breakdowns.

“This is damaging to learners’ confidence and to instructors; whose livelihoods depend on having a fit-for-purpose road network and an undamaged car. 

“The situation is so serious that the hazard perception test and Highway Code need to change to reflect the state of the roads that learner drivers have to learn on.

“There is no advice for drivers about potholes anywhere in the Highway Code yet it is one of the most common hazards they encounter.”

Potholes are really bad in St Albans

Finbar King, AA Driving School pupil from St Albans, said: “The potholes are really bad where I live and it definitely has an impact on how I drive.

“Especially when you first start having lessons there is a lot to think about and trying to avoid potholes is just one more thing to factor in.

“My test is coming up soon and I just hope I can focus on my driving and not spend the whole time making sure I don’t get caught out by a bad road surface.”

Incidents and comments reported by AA and BSM instructors
  • Two new tyres due to pothole damage since the end of November.
  • Instructor reporting examiners in their area pointing out potholes to candidates
  • One instructor went through three tyres in one day from potholes
  • "I would say that I have had more damaged tyres in the last 5 years due to potholes than in the whole of my career as an ADI (32 years). The roads in this country are a national disgrace."
#FlagitFunditFillit

The latest call for action on potholes is part of the AA’s #FlagitFunditFillit campaign, which asks drivers to safely photograph potholes and send them to the responsible highway authority and the Department for Transport via social media to show the scale of the pothole problem.

The AA also wants the Government to ring-fence 2p per litre of current fuel duty to create a £1bn ‘pothole fund’ specifically to be channelled to local councils so they can get on top of their pothole problem.

Previous research by the AA showed nine out of 10 (88%*) drivers think roads are worse now compared to 10 years ago.


Populus received 17,503 responses from AA members to its online poll between the 17th and 24th April 2018. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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