Drivers still see potholes as the greatest safety issue on UK roads, ahead of speeding, congestion and even drink-driving. That’s according to new research conducted by road safety charity IAM RoadSmart, formerly known simply as the Institute of Advanced Motorists or IAM.

The latest iteration of the organisation’s annual Safety Culture Report gathered data from more than 2,000 motorists and found four in five drivers (79 percent) think potholes were a bigger issue than they were three years ago. Just five percent of the drivers surveyed said they thought potholes were a smaller problem than they were last year.

The report found 90 percent of the motorists surveyed had been affected by potholes in the past year, with 32 percent even saying they had changed their route to avoid rough road surfaces. A further 16 percent of those surveyed said they had reported potholes to the authorities.

Large road pothole

Regional differences were also rife, with drivers in Wales proving most likely to think potholes are an issue, with 84 percent of Welsh drives saying the issue is more problematic than it was three years ago. In the north-west of England, that number stood at 83 percent, while the south-west of England and East Midlands saw 82 percent of drivers express concerns.

In contrast, 69 percent of drivers in London said potholes were a more serious problem than three years ago – a number that rocketed wildly elsewhere in the UK. Drivers in the east of England were second least likely to think potholes were getting worse, but 78 percent still agreed the problem was more concerning than it was three years previously.

“The fact that motorists perceive potholes to be a bigger issue compared to drink driving and speeding, which cause more deaths, goes to show how much of a problem the pothole crisis continues to be,” said Neil Greig, the director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart. “Not only is damage to vehicles caused by potholes expensive and inconvenient, but it is also a major safety concern affecting all road users. In particular, potholes pose a serious risk of injury to those on two wheels, as well as potentially causing drivers to swerve into oncoming traffic.”

“Drivers are suffering from pothole problems every day and it is adding to the stress and cost of running a car. No one can enjoy their motoring anymore if the roads are in such poor condition. The government must deliver on its promise to provide long term ring- fenced funding for road maintenance so that the backlog can be eliminated in the foreseeable future. It is clear that such a policy would be very popular with millions of drivers across the UK.”

Ford Focus Pothole