Posted: Fri 11th Nov 2022

Six-in-10 drivers think the state of local roads has got worse in the last year

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Nov 11th, 2022

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Around 60% of drivers believe the condition of local roads they use regularly is worse than a year ago, according to new RAC data.

A survey of 3,102 drivers found that only 4% think the state of the local roads in their area has improved in the past 12 months.

It also showed that those believing their local roads have got worse had grown by 2% from 58% in 2021 and by 8% from 52% in 2020.

More drivers think the condition of motorways and dual carriageways is worse this year than last.

Issues with surface quality are the main reason drivers say the state of their local roads has deteriorated.

Eighty-six per cent of drivers say they have to steer to avoid potholes on several occasions.

But potholes and the like are no longer the only problem:

63% say they have noticed faded road markings, up from 56% last year, while 42% report worsened signage visibility and 35% complain about the amount of litter by the roadside.

Lack of grass and foliage maintenance is another problem, cited by 30% of drivers.

The RAC asked drivers to rate the quality of repairs to potholes carried out by local authorities.

The findings show that even when authorities are managing to repair local road surfaces, drivers are generally unhappy with the quality of the work, 55% rate the standard of pothole repairs in their area as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.

Those living in villages or rural areas are likely to rate repairs worst with 61% saying council repair work is either ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.

The views of drivers are supported by the RAC Pothole Index which shows there is little sign of improvement to the quality of local roads.

The index, which analyses pothole-related breakdowns together with the seasonal effects of the weather to give a true long-term indication of the condition of the UK’s roads, now stands at 1.6, up from 1.48 at the end of September 2021.

This means drivers are 1.6 times more likely to experience breakdown due a pothole than they were in 2006 – the starting point of the index’s data.

The reason drivers are dissatisfied with the standard of repair work may be related to the amount of funding councils receive from the Government.

The Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) report for 2022 once again indicates local authorities in Wales and England do not have adequate funding to keep roads in a reasonable condition.

Despite a 4% increase in average highway maintenance budgets, the report states councils are investing less money in carriageway repairs. As such, the reported backlog of repairs has increased by almost 25% to over £12 billion: according to the AIA’s estimates, this will take more than a decade to complete.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “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.”

“Sadly, neither drivers’ feelings or the RAC Pothole Index point to any substantial improvement in the quality of our local roads. 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 ringfenced funding to allow councils to maintain their roads properly and regularly.”


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