- EXCLUSIVE: Potholes and road defects claimed 18 lives over the past five years
- Mud on the road is responsible for seven deaths between 2018 and 2022
Some 451 people have been killed or seriously injured by potholes across England Scotland and Wales in the period between 2018 and 2022, new figures have shown.
Of those, 18 were killed, including one passenger in Kent who died in 2020 on a motorway. Three people were seriously injured on motorways as a result of potholes, according to data collated by the Department of Transport.
A further seven lost their lives on A-roads – including two pedestrians as a result of a defective road surface.
Mud on the road claimed a further seven lives, with deaths in Cheshire, North Wales, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Gwent and Surrey.
A further 333 people suffered serious injuries as a result of mud on the road during this period, 307 of those incidents happening in rural areas.
The government has recently announced a further £8.3bn to tackle potholes across the country as hard-pressed motorists face rising repair bills for shredded tyres and busted shock absorbers.
Already there is a nine-year backlog in road repairs, although the added investment and new technology could dramatically slash this timescale and bring desperately-needed improvement to the road network.
The AA said it attended almost 50,000 pothole related breakdowns in September alone, which is the highest in the month for five years.
And according to the RAC, their patrols went out to almost 6,000 pothole breakdowns between July and September.
The mechanics reported witnessing damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs or distorted wheels.
RAC head of policy Simon Williams said: ‘Our analysis of pothole-related breakdowns is sadly once again showing that the sub-standard state of the country’s local roads is causing a world of pain for drivers, let alone those on two wheels.
‘Fortunately, the Government has promised £8.3bn for local highways authorities over a five-year period which should give them the certainty of funding they need to be able to plan longer term road maintenance work. We very much look forward to finding out exactly how the money will be allocated.
‘We have long argued that it’s not just a question of filling potholes, it’s about getting the roads in the worst condition resurfaced. Then, it’s vital that more councils start to make greater use of surface treatments which can cost effectively extend the lives of these roads.’
Oil and diesel on the roads has claimed the lives of seven and seriously injured a further 223 others, while 91 have been killed in areas where there are roadworks. Over the five year period, 1,284 suffered serious injuries.
Department for Transport spokesman said: ‘The decision to redirect HS2 funding to other transport projects means that an extra £8.3 billion has been freed up to help local authorities fill potholes and resurface roads across the country, which is on top of the near £1 billion the Government already provides on average every year.
‘We are investing a record amount of funding into tackling potholes and resurfacing roads, which will see highway maintenance funding to local authorities almost doubled over the next decade.”
Darren Rodwell, transport spokesperson for the Local Government Association (LGA), said: ‘The LGA has long-called for longer term funding to tackle the issues facing our roads and we believe that Government should award council highways departments with five-yearly funding allocations to give more certainty, bringing councils on a par with National Highways.
‘Councils much prefer to invest in more cost-effective and resilient resurfacing than retrospectively dealing with potholes.
‘The recently announced £8.3 billion additional funding for roads maintenance should help to bring more of our local road network up to scratch, and help deal with the £14billion backlog of repairs.
‘We await to see more details of the funding plan.’
Last month, Dawsongroup placed an order with JCB for 50 of their Pothole Pro machines, which can each fix a hole in eight minutes at a cost of £30.
The company already has 11 of the £165,000 machines which are on long-term hire to councils across the country.
Now the firm wants to increase the size of its fleet due to the massive demand and political pressure to fix potholes.
The Asphalt Industry Alliance believes the total bill to fix potholes across Britain will be in the region of £14bn and will take nine years according to current efforts.
However, Glen Carruthers of Dawsongroup said: ‘We only bought our first JCB Pothole Pro under a year ago and the response has been staggering, with the whole of the current fleet now out on hire. We have placed this additional order simply to keep up with demand.’
Ben Rawding of JCB said: ‘It’s great to see the success that Dawsongroup is enjoying with the Pothole Pro. More and more local authorities, and the contractors working on their behalf, are recognising that the Pothole Pro is the best way to fix Britain’s roads quickly and permanently, first time.
‘It is now easier than ever for UK authorities to get a JCB Pothole Pro on to their network, whether it’s in a city or in a rural county and the public will now really start to see their presence on the roads and streets around the UK.’
According to JCB, their new machine can complete a repair in less than eight minutes – compared to 32 minutes using a traditional experienced work gang.
With a speed of 40km/h, the machine can move between several worksites in a day.
It is able to cut out the damaged area, crop the edges and clean the hole before new tarmac is laid down.
JCB chairman Lord Bamford added: ‘Potholes really a scourge; we are fixated on this dreadful problem and I am fixated on finding a solution.
‘We simply cannot allow our road networks to continue to be blighted by potholes. JCB’s solution is simple and cost effective and fixes potholes permanently, first time. Once the machine has done its job all the contractor then needs to do is just add tar.’
During tests in Stoke-on-Trent, the machine completed 51 jobs in 20 days – a workload which would have previously taken a team of six, 63 days to complete.