The government hopes a data-driven plan will speed up repairs.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has launched a new review into the mapping of potholes in a bid to better “target” improvements. The Department for Transport (DfT) plans to use data from on-road businesses such as Uber and Deliveroo to identify “pothole hotspots”, then repair the road surface.

By combining the data on current potholes held by businesses, as well as using a bank of road imagery from Gaist, the DfT hopes to “paint the most comprehensive picture ever” of the state of Britain’s roads. Using that information, the department plans to determine where funding is most needed.

According to the DfT, the new scheme will make the roads as safe as possible, particularly while more commuters and students use the streets of the UK over the next few months. The organisation also says the plans will help cyclists and motorists return to work after the coronavirus lockdown.

The news comes after the government claimed it had repaired 319 miles of resurfacing works, including potholes, during the quieter roads of lockdown. It also follows recent government commitments to fund pothole repairs, with the DfT claiming to have pumped £2.5 billion into road repairs.

However, according to the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), the one-time cost of fixing all the UK’s potholes would amount to more than £11 billion. That’s up from £9.7 billion in 2019 – an increase that suggests a noticeable deterioration in the state of British tarmac.

Pothole next to manhole cover marked for repair in London

“I want our roads to be as safe as possible, so during the lockdown we’ve resurfaced hundreds of miles of road,” said Shapps. “But now I want to go further by identifying critical potholes and ensuring these are fixed as quickly as possible.

“We’re teaming up with delivery companies, who know the roads well, in order to map out where remaining potholes exist and then relentlessly target them with our record £2.5 billion to pothole repair fund. Better road surfaces benefit motorists and cyclists alike ensuring the back to school and work environment is safer for everyone.”

Road worker repairing pothole in Buckingham UK

Meanwhile Charlie Wren, director of operations at Deliveroo, said the company wanted to make the roads safer for Deliveroo staff and the public.

“Deliveroo riders go above and beyond to bring people the food they love and this is a great way to make sure they and other road users are safe on the road,” he said. “We’re looking forward to working with the government on this important scheme to help make the roads safer for Deliveroo riders and others.”

Big pothole on a country road with passing car