Road to despair – March pothole frenzy

Road to despair with 1,800 daily pothole breakdowns in March

AA attended 10,000 more pothole damage breakdowns last month compared to March 2022

14 April 2023

The UK’s largest breakdown organisation, the AA, attended an average of 1,870 pothole-related incidents per day in March. The AA pothole index reports an astonishing 10,000 pothole damage breakdown hike compared to 2022*. 

The wettest and coldest March in years did nothing to ease the plight of Britain’s drivers as standing water masked potholes lurking beneath the surface, resulting in a bumper month for tyre centres and garages. The average car tyre costs £90 and alloy wheels are priced at around £250 each, meaning the 1,870 unlucky motorists who hit potholes each day in March could have faced £168,300 in new tyre bills alone.

Pothole damaged wheel credit terry laughton

Photo credit Terry Laughton

A recent ALARM Survey** also revealed there has been a rise in the cost of compensation claims for pothole-related incidents – forcing cash-strapped local authorities to shell out almost £23m over the last 12 months. To help address the growing problem, the AA is calling for a more structured approach to planned road repairs, where Utility companies and councils work together to plan their maintenance schedules, leading to less disruption for drivers and better standards in the reinstatement of our road surfaces.

The number of potholes filled by local authorities dropped to 1.4 million last year, a fall of 300,000 from the year before. On average, a pothole is filled every 22 seconds at a cost of £93.7m, but as many of these repairs are reactive, they’re unlikely to last as long as a planned repair where the damaged area around the pothole is cut away and evenly refilled.

“Our patrols attend up to 20 per cent more pothole-related breakdowns in heavy rain, as many potholes are covered by standing water.”
Edmund King, AA president

With a one-time catch-up likely to take up to 11 years, and at a cost of £14bn, many local authorities have reacted to budget reductions and an increase in the number of potholes by trialling innovative new ways of repairing damaged roads, with equipment like JCB’s PotholePro which can drastically reduce repair times, meaning cheaper quicker repairs, less disruption for drivers and less damage to the environment. 

Edmund King, AA president, said: “The current pothole plague firmly puts the UK on the road to despair. The rise in the number of pothole-related incidents is the number one concern for drivers, motorbike riders and cyclists.  Persistent cold and wet weather, coupled with poorly planned roadworks means problem roads are undoubtedly getting worse and pothole complaints will not go away until the roads are properly fixed.

“Our patrols attend up to 20 per cent more pothole-related breakdowns in heavy rain, as many potholes are covered by standing water. If a vehicle strikes a pothole, the cost of wheel, tyre or suspension damage can run into thousands of pounds, placing further strain on already stretched family budgets.

“Many modern vehicles do not have a spare wheel, so if potholes damage the tyre or wheel, it becomes a bigger problem to fix before you can get on your way. We would encourage drivers to check they have sufficient breakdown cover in place to help them deal with the aftermath of a pothole puncture and also to try to be vigilant to safely avoid potholes.”

*Figures compared to total pothole-related incidents attended by the AA in March 2022.
** Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey - AIA The Asphalt Industry Alliance ( 

JCB Pothole Pro | Wheeled Excavator |