The RAC says drivers would like to see car tax ring-fenced for road maintenance.

Roughly half of UK motorists think the condition of local roads is getting worse, according to new research out today.

A study of more than 1,700 drivers by the RAC found that 49 percent thought local roads, which includes all roads not classed as motorways or major A-roads, have deteriorated in the past year. In comparison, 40 percent of respondents said they had seen no real change in the condition of local road surfaces, while just 11 percent said they thought the roads had improved.

And the situation is even worse for those in rural areas, where residents are 10 percent more likely to say their roads are getting worse. Almost six in 10 drivers (58 percent) in rural locations said they had seen their streets deteriorated. In contrast, a quarter of Londoners (25 percent) said their local roads had improved - more than double the national average.

Car about to drive into a pothole

However, the figures suggest the deterioration is not as marked as it has been in recent years. The proportion of motorists who thought the roads had deteriorated last year stood at 66 percent, while the RAC’s Pothole Index shows RAC patrols are attending fewer pothole-related breakdowns than they have done previously. In the third quarter of 2019, the patrols had 8,823 call-outs for damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs and distorted wheels - almost 5,400 fewer than the 14,220 seen in the same quarter in 2018.

Nevertheless, the RAC says there’s still “resentment” from motorists about the state of our roads, with eight in 10 (83 percent) saying the roads should be better given the taxation levied on drivers. More than three-quarters of those quizzed (77 percent) said they would like to see “at least a chunk” of their motoring taxes ring-fenced to fund local road maintenance.

Workmen fix potholes in the road in Reading UK

“The state of our roads is always one of the biggest bugbears for drivers,” said the RAC’s head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes. “This year our research findings showed a third of drivers listed the condition and maintenance of local roads as one of their top four concerns from a list of 20 motoring issues.

“Despite data from our patrols revealing fewer of the breakdowns they have attended this year have been related to pothole damage, it seems that drivers still feel that road surfaces are not as good as they should be. Those living in rural areas definitely feel more hard done by, perhaps because they rely on their cars more than those in towns and cities so they are more inclined to notice defects that hinder their journeys.

Potholes in the middle of narrow one way road

“We believe local roads are vital to the UK’s economy so should be treated in a similar way [to motorways], which would allow local authorities to plan routine maintenance rather than just filling in potholes as they appear. This idea is popular with motorists, as more than three-quarters said they would like to see a proportion of current motoring taxation ring-fenced to fund maintenance of local roads.”

Motor1.com has contacted the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England and Wales, for comment, but has not yet received a response.

Pothole in the street