In the first quarter of 2024, the UK witnessed a staggering surge in breakdowns attributed to deteriorating road surfaces, with the RAC rushing to assist nearly 8,000 motorists. This figure marks a significant 53 per cent increase compared to the final quarter of 2023, highlighting the severity of the pothole crisis gripping the nation.

Analysis conducted by the RAC reveals a tumultuous period for drivers, with pothole-related breakdowns escalating by 10 per cent over the past year, spanning from 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024. During this timeframe, the RAC responded to a staggering 27,205 breakdowns, a stark rise from the 24,906 incidents recorded between 1 April 2022 and 31 March 2023.

“While our data shows pothole damage to vehicles in the first three months of this year is lower than it was in the same period in 2023, it’s important not to lose sight of the bigger picture and the ongoing miserable state of our roads. The analysis clearly shows drivers are now twice as likely to suffer a breakdown due to sub-standard road surfaces as they were in 2006,” RAC head of policy Simon Williams commented.

Despite these alarming statistics, the RAC suggests that motorists may have narrowly avoided further catastrophe during what is traditionally considered the most treacherous quarter of the year. Mild weather conditions contributed to a notable 22 per cent reduction in patrol call-out rates, plummeting from 10,076 incidents in the previous year to 7,094 in 2024.

Typically, sub-zero temperatures exacerbate surface degradation as water infiltrates crevices, freezes, and expands, leading to more potholes. However, the relatively temperate climate in the first quarter of 2024, coupled with increased rainfall, resulted in only seven days of frost compared to the usual average of nine. While this may have limited the formation of new potholes, it does not necessarily signify an improvement in road conditions.

Drivers frustrated by the UK’s pothole epidemic can highlight the problem by downloading and using Stan, a new free mobile app capable of automatically detecting road defects via a smartphone camera mounted in a cradle,” Williams added. “The data is helping build the UK’s first-ever national map of road surface issues. The RAC is urging local authorities to use the data to locate problems on their networks and carry out repairs quickly and efficiently.”

Just recently, it was revealed that potholes in the United Kingdom cost drivers £1.48 billion in repairs last year.