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Vehicle damage from potholes rises 24% in 2015

Released to coincide with National Pothole day, the data shows that RAC patrols responded to 5,010 more incidents involving broken shock absorbers, ruined suspension parts and distorted or damaged wheels in 2015 than they did the year before, potentially indicating that poor road surfaces were to blame. In 2014, patrols dealt with 20,477 of these jobs whereas in 2015 this grew to 25,487.

Yesterday saw the IAM release data showing that councils are increasingly investing more money into capital projects (ie road rebuilding) rather than spending funds on short-term temporary repairs.

The RAC figures show that the single biggest increase recorded was for damaged suspension springs which saw a 42% rise from 13,101 in 2014 to 18,417 last year.

There were also 10% more incidents of damaged wishbones and a 10% rise in faults with vehicle subframes.

While East Anglia saw the greatest number of pothole-related call-outs with 4,547, it only ranked third across the UK in terms of percentage increase of these faults, with 31%.

The South East was the worst region overall, with a 62% rise as a result of 2,686 incidents. The North East, however, was a close third on 30% with 3,783 incidents.

The vehicle damage top five was completed by Scotland, which recorded a 27% uplift (2,537 call-outs) in this type of call-out and the Midlands, stretching down to South Wales, which saw 19% (3,491).

RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “It is very worrying that our patrols have dealt with more pothole-related breakdowns in 2015 than they did the year before because we did not experience a particularly cold winter in either year.

“We know that a number of local authorities increased their spending in 2015 to try to catch up with some of the road maintenance and repair backlog but this evidence indicates that there is still some way to go. In the absence of freezing conditions, which are a major cause of potholes, this suggests that some highways authorities are still losing the pothole-repair fight. We shall only win the battle once sufficient preventative road surface maintenance is undertaken to prevent potholes appearing when the first bad weather arrives.”

In the 2015 Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne said that spending on roads will be over five billion pounds and pledged a “permanent pothole fund” on top of the £6bn already promised.

In response, Matt Dyer, managing director, LeasePlan commented: “Even though it’s welcome, we might ask whether this extra five billion pounds and permanent pothole fund is enough. According to local authorities last year, it will take another £10.5bn to fill in every single pothole.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.