Six in every 10 drivers think local roads in the UK have become worse over the past year, according to new research. A study of more than 3,000 British motorists found 60 percent think roads are worse than they were a year ago, while 55 percent think the standard of pothole repairs is “poor” at best.
By the same token, the RAC’s research found just four percent of motorists think the state of local roads has improved in the past 12 months. That’s a small but significant reduction compared with the last two years, which have both seen six percent of drivers say the roads are getting better.
In the vast majority of cases, the RAC study found drivers were bemoaning the surface quality of their local roads, with 98 percent of those who thought their roads had deteriorated citing this issue. Similarly, 86 percent of drivers said they have had to avoid potholes on several occasions – a figure that rises to 90 percent in rural locations, but falls to 81 percent for those in urban areas.
However, the RAC says there’s growing evidence to suggest potholes are only part of the issue. This year’s survey found 63 percent have noticed faded road markings, up from 56 percent last year, while 42 percent said signage visibility has deteriorated. More than a third (35 percent) complained about the amount of litter seen by the roadside, while poor maintenance of grass and foliage was an issue cited by 30 percent of drivers.
Almost half (45 percent) of all those surveyed said the poor condition of the UK’s local roads was their top motoring concern. That’s a considerable increase compared with pre-pandemic 2019, when 33 percent of respondents said the same thing, but it’s down by one percent compared with 2021.
“Given the sharp rise in concern about fuel prices this year, the fact local road maintenance remains such a prominent issue is a reflection of just how deep-seated this problem has become,” said RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes. “Many describe the repair work – when it’s carried out – as being substandard, which more than likely means potholes and surface defects will quickly reappear, costing yet more money to fix. This seems to be utter madness and an issue that badly needs addressing if drivers’ views are indeed accurate.
“However, it is encouraging the government plans to introduce new measures designed to penalise utilities and construction companies which leave road surfaces in sub-standard condition after completing street works. Firms which fail to meet strict criteria for the quality of their repair work will face more rigorous inspections and, ultimately, severe financial penalties. This perhaps also begs the question about the standard of council road repairs there is an argument that such measures should also be extended to contractors working for on behalf of councils.
“Unfortunately, we do still have a widespread funding shortfall meaning that many councils can’t afford to maintain and improve roads as they would like to. The RAC continues to believe the local road network needs some form of ring-fenced funding to allow councils to maintain their roads properly and regularly.”