After widespread coverage appeared of Sir Rod Stewart tackling potholes near his Essex home, new research reveals he is far from alone in suffering from costly damage due to poor road surfaces.
The annual PIT Report (Pothole Impact Tracker) for Kwik Fit, the UK’s leading automotive servicing and repair company, shows that over the last twelve months the total cost of pothole damage to British drivers has risen to a staggering £1.7 billion.
This figure shows a 35% increase on the previous year (£1.2bn), a rise which could be partly explained by the higher traffic volumes in the last twelve months than in the year to March 2021 – the first year of the pandemic. However, it is notable that the latest figure is nearly half a billion pounds higher than in the year before Covid hit, despite average daily car traffic remaining below those pre-pandemic levels, and in fact is the biggest total seen since Kwik Fit began tracking the cost annually.
Kwik Fit’s research found that when it comes to the road surfaces in their local area, almost three times as many drivers think conditions have deteriorated in the last year as believe they have got better. 46% of drivers say the road surfaces have got worse in the last twelve months, compared to 16% who say they have improved. London is the only region of the country to buck this trend. In the capital, 30% of drivers say the road surfaces are better than one year ago, compared to 25% who say they are worse.
Although the damage caused by a pothole may be instantly apparent, such as a burst tyre or cracked alloy, in many cases the effect can be hidden. For instance, the impact can lead to gradual deflation through a slow puncture or cause a bulge or damage to the inside wall of a tyre which may not be immediately spotted but could result in a tyre failure at high speed. Similarly, if wheels are knocked slightly out of alignment it can compromise handling and cause uneven tyre wear, but it may take time for this to become obvious. Kwik Fit recommends drivers who have experienced a particularly heavy impact to keep a close eye on how their car is handling in the days following the incident.
Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, says: “The total cost of potholes to the nation’s drivers is rising due to a combination of factors – worsening road surfaces, the impact of inflation on individual repair costs and car use getting back to near pre-pandemic levels. We all know there are huge demands on public finances at the moment, but the reality is that drivers have been consistently calling for a strategic plan to effectively bring our roads up to scratch for many years. It is not sufficient to just carry out emergency patching of the worst areas – this is always going to be a case of papering over the cracks.”