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Thousands of drivers suffer pothole breakdowns despite low traffic during lockdown

Thousands of drivers suffer pothole breakdowns despite low traffic during lockdown


Thousands of motorists have had to deal with pothole-related breakdowns between April and June despite falling traffic numbers brought as a result of the coronavirus lockdown, new figures have highlighted.


The RAC has said that it received 1,766 call-outs for cars which had suffered damage from poor road surfaces over the three months. 


The breakdown rescue firm called the figures “a real cause for concern” given that they were recorded over a period when government data shows that traffic volumes were down by as much as 60 per cent. 


Vehicles succumbed to issues such as distorted wheels, broken suspension springs or damaged shock absorbers - and some 1.1 per cent of all breakdowns were related to potholes.


Though down on the 1.6 per cent recorded in the first quarter of the year, the figure was identical to that submitted for the same period in 2019. It shows that road surfaces did not improve dramatically over the previous 12 months. 


Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of roads policy, said: “On the surface, these statistics appear encouraging because they make it seem as though the quality of our roads hasn’t worsened, but when you consider how few vehicles were on the road, they are a real cause for concern.


“We would have hoped to have seen a far bigger drop in the share of pothole-related breakdowns than we would do normally at this time of year, but instead it was just the same as usual.


“We were very surprised by how many of these call-outs we dealt with during lockdown considering the vast majority of our work in this period was helping motorists with flat batteries at home as a result of vehicles being used so little.


“Those who did need our assistance away from home between April and June must have been very annoyed that their vehicle had been unlucky enough to have fallen victim to a pothole, particularly as many local authorities took advantage of the quieter roads during lockdown to repair poor road surfaces.”


David Renard, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, said: “Fixing our roads is a top priority for councils.


“Despite the circumstances during the coronavirus pandemic, councils have been working hard to fix potholes and repair road surfaces as well as supporting the increase in cycling infrastructure through temporary road measures.


“Extra Government funding has helped but our local roads are deteriorating at a faster rate than can be repaired by councils. It would cost more than £11 billion to clear our current roads repair backlog.


“With devolved infrastructure and transport budgets and long-term funding, councils can improve our roads and deliver the infrastructure improvements that allow people to move around in less carbon intensive and more sustainable ways.”


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