Fleet News

Fleets help Government map problem potholes on UK roads

Car driving along a stretch of road covered in potholes

Deliveroo, Uber, Tesco and Ocado will help identify hot-spots for pothole repairs in a data-driven review launched by the Department for Transport (DfT).

The DfT is working with Gaist, a highway data and mapping company, fleet operators and local highway authorities to identify problem areas. 

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “We’re teaming up with delivery companies, who know the roads well, in order to map out where remaining potholes exist.

“Better road surfaces benefit motorists and cyclists alike ensuring the back to school and work environment is safer for everyone.”

Combining collated data on current potholes held by fleet operators, and a bank of road images from Gaist, the DfT says it will be able to paint the most “comprehensive picture ever” of where funding is most needed to make sure roads are not plagued by potholes.

Research from Kwik Fit earlier this year, suggested that potholes caused damage totalling £1.25 billion to vehicles in 2019.

The servicing and repair company said that, with more than 10.8 million drivers damaging their vehicle due to poor road conditions last year, the total cost over the past three years had risen to £3.4bn.

The average bill for each of those motorists affected was £115, covering repairs to components such as tyres, suspension and wheels. 

Charlie Wren, director of operations at Deliveroo, said the DfT pothole mapping scheme was a “great way” to make sure its riders and other road users are safe on the road.

“We’re looking forward to working with the Government on this important scheme to help make the roads safer for Deliveroo riders and others,” he said.

Since 2010, the Government has allocated £1.2bn to help repair potholes on local roads, including £500 million from £2.5bn announced in the Budget earlier this year.

However, the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) said that £2.5bn pledge would not be enough to plug the gap in local road maintenance budgets, let alone the rising backlog of repairs.

Its Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey showed that the green shoots of improving conditions reported in 2019 were not being sustained, with local authorities having to cope with an average drop in overall highway maintenance budgets of 16%.

Covid-19 has led to further roads funding announcements since the Budget and plans being brought forward to help the economic recovery.

Highway maintenance works have also been undertaken in the past months, when roads were quieter during lockdown, which has led to 319 miles of resurfacing.

Furthermore, Highways England has unveiled details of plans to invest £27.4bn in the strategic road network over the next five years.

Almost £11bn will go into improving journeys by repairing and replacing parts of the network, largely built in the 1960s and 1970s.

The A66 will be upgraded, creating the first new Trans-Pennine dual carriageway since 1971 and a new road and tunnel under the Thames, between Essex and Kent, to increase capacity and speed up journeys between the Channel ports and the rest of the country.

Almost 5,000 lane miles of road will be resurfaced, more than 1,000 miles of safety barriers on motorways and dual carriageways will be installed or renewed, and 170 bridges and other structures will be renewed.

Highways England said the new investments lay the foundations for connected vehicles, digital traffic management and enabling two-way communications between roadside infrastructure and in-car devices that will revolutionise inter-modal transportation and personal and commercial mobility in the future.

Highways England’s chief executive, Jim O’Sullivan, who recently announced he would be leaving the agency, said: “Over the next five years we will increase capacity where it is most needed and continue to upgrade more of the network which has suffered from decades of under-investment.”

Over the past five years Highways England has completed 36 major improvement schemes, including adding additional capacity on the M20 in Kent, the M6 in the Midlands and in Cheshire.

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