Motoring: Potholes now considered the most dangerous hazard to motorists

Torbay Weekly

IAM RoadSmart annual safety culture report reported that three in four motorists - 75 per cent - now perceive potholes to be a bigger threat for road users than they were three years ago.

This was followed by driver distraction - 68 per cent - such as texting or talking on a mobile phone, and traffic congestion.

This report, now in it’s sixth year and surveying more than 2,000 motorists, also discovered 89 per cent of motorists have been affected by potholes in the last year.

A third - 31 per cent - had changed their route to avoid a pothole with more than half - 54 per cent - having to take action to avoid impact or damage.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “The pothole situation on the UK roads has become much more than irritating, it’s a significant threat to personal safety.

"We simply can’t have vehicles swerving into oncoming traffic, or slamming on their brakes without warning to avoid them. Deteriorating roads also put pedestrians and cyclists at greater risk.”

This problem has certainly worsened during the Covid pandemic and although some councils have been given additional money by the Government to help deal with the situation, many have just not been able to keep pace with the problem.

The current situation in regional areas has put even more pressure on councils and while they try to keep council tax rises to no more than 1.5 per cent, this is unlikely to be possible with inflation forecast to hit around six per cent in 2022.

On the other hand, claims from motorists for damage are an unnecessary and unwelcome expense and, with the likelihood of more visitors coming to the south-west for their holidays again this year, road improvements and better and more parking spaces will be the priority.

Furthermore, it is estimated over 40,000 miles of road classed as being in poor structural condition, costing an estimated £11.14 billion to bring them up to a level which they could be maintained cost-effectively going forward.

The last thing motorists need is another batch of increased costs as prices of fuel have now reached record levels.

The continued shortage of chips is still having an effect on new vehicle supply and causing shortages of parts, keeping some cars off the road.

Prices of used vehicles have also increased and there is little prospect of this changing in the near future, at least not until the new vehicle supply improves.

The Chancellor still has to work out how to raise more revenue from the motor industry which traditionally contributes to far more than the costs of maintaining and investing in new roads.

New car sales produce significant tax income from vehicle tax and VAT so he too will be hoping for a return to normal supply to ensure the large number of outstanding orders can be fulfilled.

We may be coming to the end of the worst of the Covid situation but there are many challenges to overcome to return to any kind of similarity to 2019.

Stay safe and keep smiling. I look forward to next week.