Fleet News

RAC sees 24% rise in vehicles damaged by potholes

Fleet news logo

The RAC has seen a 24% year-on-year rise in the number of call-outs to vehicles likely to have suffered damaged due to poor road surfaces.

Data released to coincide with National Pothole Day shows that RAC patrols responded to 5,010 more incidents involving broken shock absorbers, ruined suspension parts and distorted or damaged wheels in 2015, than they did the year before, potentially indicating that poor road surfaces were to blame.

In 2014, patrols dealt with 20,477 of these jobs whereas in 2015 this grew to 25,487.

The single biggest increase recorded was for damaged suspension springs which saw a 42% rise from 13,101 in 2014 to 18,417 last year.

There were also 10% more incidents of damaged wishbones – the part that shock absorbers and springs are fitted to – and a 10% rise in faults with vehicle subframes – the rigid structures under a car which support the engine, drivetrain and suspension.

While East Anglia saw the greatest number of pothole-related call-outs with 4,547, it only ranked third across the UK in terms of percentage increase of these faults with 31%.

The South East was the worst region overall with a 62% rise as a result of 2,686 incidents. The North East, however, was a close third on 30% with 3,783 incidents.

The RAC’s National Pothole Day vehicle damage top five was completed by Scotland which recorded a 27% uplift (2,537 call-outs) in this type of call-out and the Midlands, stretching down to South Wales which saw 19% (3,491).

RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “Potholes can wreak havoc with vehicles and are therefore understandably hated by motorists.

“It is very worrying that our patrols have dealt with more pothole-related breakdowns in 2015 than they did the year before because we did not experience a particularly cold winter in either year.

“We know that a number of local authorities increased their spending in 2015 to try to catch up with some of the road maintenance and repair backlog but this evidence indicates that there is still some way to go.

“In the absence of freezing conditions, which are a major cause of potholes, this suggests that some highways authorities are still losing the pothole-repair fight.

“We shall only win the battle once sufficient preventative road surface maintenance is undertaken to prevent potholes appearing when the first bad weather arrives.

“On top of the £6bn already promised, the Chancellor made available further funds in the Autumn Statement and whilst this is still not enough to meet the shortfall, it may hopefully mean we will see a decline in ‘pothole generated breakdowns’ this time next year.”

The latest RAC Report on Motoring found the sorry state of Britain’s local roads to be the number one concern among drivers, with 10% of motorists surveyed saying the condition of local roads was their top concern, while a further 20% listed the issue as one of their top four concerns.

Half (50%) of the 1,555 motorists questioned for the report – now in its 27th year –said the condition of roads in their area had deteriorated in the past 12 months with just 10% claiming it had improved; the remainder reporting no change.

Matt Dyer, managing director of LeasePlan UK, said: “Part of the reason why there are so many potholes, in the first place, is because the roads are aged and decrepit.”

Mark Gibson, head of marketing and business development at Alphabet, added: “We urge drivers to conduct basic diligence in carrying out preventative measures to avoid potholes and uneven road surfaces on main and local roads.

“Until a solution has been set, drivers must be vigilant and take the necessary precautions."

Report a pothole on the Government website, by clicking here


Leave a comment for your chance to win £20 of John Lewis vouchers.

Every issue of Fleet News the editor picks his favourite comment from the past two weeks – get involved for your chance to appear in print and win!

Login to comment


  • Mark - 15/01/2016 12:09

    More should be done by councils especially in local areas were the roads are really bad. Its not just the money it is the time wasted which is more valuable sometimes. Why should we have to pay when we pay enough to have our roads maintained. insurance seems to go up and taxes go up but the driver never sees any benefits!!!!

  • Ste - 15/01/2016 14:00

    Welcome to your country following 5 years of coalition lead by Tories and another 5 years of Tory rule with budgets and grants being slashed year on year for a decade. You voted for them (well 34% of you did but that's all it took in our 'democracy'.) Funny how the stories I am now reading about money for potholes, children in super sized classes, ministers in wars with doctors and nurses, moves back towards fossil fuels, dangerous moves to exit the EU, concessions for private house building companies, graduates in life long debt, reminds me of being in the early Nineties under the same Tory boys...

Compare costs of your company cars

Looking to acquire new vehicles? Check how much they'll cost to run with our Car Running Cost calculator.

What is your BIK car tax liability?

The Fleet News car tax calculator lets you work out tax costs for both employer and employee