At least half of all drivers in Scotland, eastern England and the north-west of England say their local roads are “terrible” according to research. A study of more than 12,000 people by the AA found 53 percent of those living in the north-west and south-east of the country said their local roads are well below par.

Some 51 percent of drivers in the eastern part of the country said they thought their roads were bad enough to be described as “terrible”, while the same applied to 50 percent of Scottish drivers. Almost as many motorists in the East Midlands and the south-west of England (both 49 percent) said they thought their roads were equally bad.

Overall, in every area of the British mainland, at least 40 percent of the drivers surveyed said their local residential roads were “terrible”. Only Northern Irish motorists fell below the 40 percent threshold, with 37 percent deeming their local roads were below the required standards.

Pothole in the street

With local authorities up and down the country setting their budgets for the coming financial year, the AA says it is “concerned” councils could cut back on road maintenance spending to balance the books elsewhere. And with a cold spell prior to Christmas followed by heavy rain, the organisation says there’s a “pandemic” of potholes on local roads.

On rainy days since November, the breakdown organisation says its patrols are called to an average of 225 breakdowns each day as a result of drivers hitting potholes in the road surface that are often obscured by water. The AA says such breakdowns often include problems such as punctures, wheel damage and suspension faults, and it says the potholes that cause them can be fatal for cyclists and motorcyclists.

Car driving through a pothole with splashes of water

“Step out your front door and you won’t have to travel too far to find a pothole,” said the AA’s head of roads policy, Jack Cousens. “Years of underinvestment in the nation’s roads means we are seeing more potholes develop than ever before.

“While the north-west and south-east [of England] top the charts this time, most communities will say the main roads are usually in pretty good shape but the minor and residential roads are where the potholes create a menace. Many of these are used for active travel and exercise, such as cycling. Dimmed street lights add to the threat in the dark.

“It’s not just road surfaces that need upgrading. Worn road markings, damaged signs, streetlights no longer working, and overgrown hedgerow covering signs are all too common on UK roads.

“Sadly, this all points towards a lack of funding or ring-fencing by both central and local government. With tighter budgets planned, road maintenance could be cut in favour of other projects. Safe and maintained streets are vital for everyone regardless of how they use the roads, and we desperately need to see a massive cash-injection to upgrade local roads. Until that happens, UK roads will continue to crumble and crack into catastrophe.”

Deep pothole in road surface