UK drivers suffered far more pothole-related breakdowns in the final three months of 2022 than during the previous three months, according to new figures. RAC data shows the breakdown organisation’s roadside staff attended an average of 20 breakdowns a day between October and the end of the year for faults such as broken springs and distorted wheels.

That means the company received more than 1,800 callouts for breakdowns commonly caused by potholes – up from 1,462 during the previous three months. The fourth-quarter figure is also the highest number seen for that part of the year since 2019.

The figures match drivers’ impressions of roads, with an RAC survey finding 86 percent of drivers say they have had to deliberately avoid potholes over the past year. That figure rises to 90 percent among those in rural areas, but only falls to 81 percent among those in urban areas. More than half of those quizzed (55 percent) said pothole repairs in their local area were ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.

Upset driver inspecting wheel damaged from potholes

And now the RAC says the pothole problem could get even worse after December’s cold snap and prolonged heavy rainfall, which the organisation describes as “perfect conditions” for creating potholes, as water seeps into cracks and expands when it freezes, splitting the road surface.

“The wet weather we’ve had both before and after the coldest start to winter in 12 years in December is the perfect recipe for potholes to start peppering the roads,” said the RAC’s head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes. “We fear that by the spring, drivers will be plagued by a plethora of potholes across the country’s roads which makes journeys uncomfortable and frustrating or, worse still, could lead to very expensive garage repair bills – the last thing anyone wants in a cost-of-living crisis. It’s also important to remember that potholes are so much more than just an annoyance, they are a true road safety danger, especially for those on two wheels as they represent a huge risk to their personal safety.

“As many drivers will no doubt testify, there are too many occasions where potholes have been poorly patched up by cash-strapped councils and then returned all too quickly. It’s frankly absurd that, as a country, we seem unable to get on top of such an age-old problem when roads play such an important role in people’s everyday lives – and are vital to moving goods and businesses delivering services.

“Councils are crying out for more funding to do a proper job in getting their roads up to a decent standard. With drivers still rating the ongoing poor state of the roads as one of their biggest motoring frustrations, they can only hope that 2023 is the year when the government finally sits up, takes notice of Britain’s perpetual problem with potholes and comes up with a better way to solve it.”

Big pothole on a country road with passing car