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Extra £200m for pothole repairs is ‘just not enough’

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Experts have welcomed the extra £200 million of Government funding for pothole repairs announced in the Budget – but suggest that more is still needed.

The extra funding means that almost £400m is now available to help repair the UK’s roads.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “A succession of bad weather, including the recent floods, has wrought havoc on our roads and any money to fill the potholes is welcome.

“But the drip, drip of funding does not address the £10 billion road maintenance backlog that councils themselves have identified.

“It is also disappointing that this money has to be bid for. This creates a bureaucratic burden and means not all councils and drivers will see the benefits.”

However, figures released last week from the Asphalt Industry Alliance show the potential repair bill has increased to £12bn.

Councils across England have already discovered how much they will receive from the £183.5m the Government made available to help repair local roads damaged by severe weather (see map at fleetnews.co.uk/potholefunding).

The emergency payment will help with road repairs following the wettest winter on record and is in addition to the £200m the Chancellor announced in the Budget that will be provided for pothole repairs during the next financial year.

Matthew Mycock, managing director of Autoglass, said: “It’s practically impossible to avoid driving on a road with potholes and many of our customers are becoming increasingly frustrated with damage caused to their tyres, windscreens and bodywork because of the poor condition of road surfaces and it’s not just the costs that are alarming.” 

An Autoglass poll of 3,000 drivers found that 80%were worried about having a pothole-related crash and almost half had actually had an accident or a near miss because of a pothole.

TyreSafe is urging drivers to make even more regular checks for damage to their tyres and wheels. It warns that drivers failing to do so face an increased risk of being involved in a tyre-related accident.

“While the announcement of extra funds to help repair the UK’s roads is welcome news, this will not happen overnight,” said Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe.

“In the meantime, it is critical that drivers pay particular attention to the condition of their tyres and wheels as hitting a pothole can cause significant damage.

“If this damage is left unchecked it can present a very serious safety risk for them and other road users.”

After hitting a pothole, a buckled wheel or lump in the tyre are the most obvious signs of damage, but hidden problems can be just as dangerous.

Hairline cracks in alloy wheels can allow air from tyres to gradually escape.

If tyres are driven in an under-inflated state for a prolonged period, they are more likely to overheat and suffer from a rapid deflation. This type of event can be extremely difficult to control as it often occurs at high speeds on motorways.

The average repair bill for damage to vehicles caused by potholes is estimated at £140, and insurance companies attribute as many as one in five mechanical vehicle failures to pothole-related damage.

Halfords Autocentres estimated that potholes are leaving motorists with an annual bill of £1.2bn for suspension, steering and wheel repairs – a rise of 16% in just 12 months (Fleet News, February 6).

Meanwhile, a study for Kwik-Fit suggests that one in eight motorists (12%) say the steering on their cars pulls to one side or the other. Almost one million who are experiencing the problem say their steering pulls significantly.

There are a number of possible reasons why cars pull to one side, but with 40% of drivers saying that they had hit a pothole in the last year, many alignment problems may stem from the conditions of the nation’s roads. 

The Government and local authorities are now spending almost £1bn a year on highway maintenance but, despite repairing more than 2.2m potholes a year, many experts believe that fixing the backlog could take more than 10 years to complete.

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