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RAC survey 2022: potholes and cost concerns

Last week saw the publication of the RAC’s annual report on motoring. It won’t be any surprise to learn that the poor condition of road surfaces remains a major concern.

However, it may be surprising to learn that this wasn’t the number one gripe this year: the cost of driving has overtaken potholes to take the top spot with 55% of motorists most worried about this issue compared to 25% last year. Among younger drivers, an even higher proportion, 62%, were concerned about rising costs with only the over-65s putting poor road conditions as their top worry.

Like many local authorities, some drivers find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to funding repairs. Motorists are putting off repairs to save cash with younger drivers more likely to do so: 37% of under-25s say they have delayed making repairs and 16% of them have put off major repairs.

Despite cash concerns, the state of local roads was still the number one issue for 45% of drivers in the online survey of over 3,000 drivers which was conducted in the first two weeks of May this year. The RAC reports that its patrols attended 10,000 pothole-related breakdowns in 2021, the highest total since 2018. And 86% of those surveyed reported that they had to steer to avoid potholes on several occasions.

On local roads 98% of motorists are concerned about the road surface quality. There are other complaints too: 63% say they have noticed faded road markings, up from 56% last year, while 42% report worsened signage visibility. The perception among motorists is that local roads are deteriorating: 60% say conditions are worse, up from 58% in 2021, while only 4% said they had improved.

Motorists are happier with the state of the national road network, painting a similar picture to last year, although a third, 33%, say that the condition of motorways and high-speed roads has deteriorated in the past 12 months, compared with 28% in 2021. Just 4% of drivers say that conditions are better now than a year ago. Of those drivers who say major road conditions have worsened, 80% cite the quality of the road surface, down from 88% in 2021.

This year, the RAC asked drivers whether they felt repairs to local roads were completed to an adequate standard. The answers showed that, generally, people don’t think they are: 55% rate the standard of pothole repairs in their area as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’. Dissatisfaction is higher in older age groups: 60% of those aged between 45 and 64 say repairs are poor, as do 57% of those aged 65 and older.

When it comes to ideas about paying for better road surfaces, 80% of those surveyed liked the idea of a percentage of motoring tax being ringfenced for this purpose. Not surprisingly, fewer people were willing to cough up more to pay for repairs this year, compared to last: only 28% compared to 43% in 2021 and 47% in 2020.

So, here’s an idea: how about turning to a pothole and surfacing repair method that both lasts longer and allows a higher area of repairs to be made for the same cost (see one example below)? If ever there was a time to challenge traditional ways of doing things it has to be now.

Thermal Road Repairs is a green technology company which supplies systems to improve the quality, cost and time efficiency of road repairs and paving – at a far lower environmental cost than traditional methods. It invests significantly in R&D, to create new technologies and to continuously improve existing ones.

Thermal Road Repairs: Decarbonising the asphalt repair industry.

High output. Zero emission. Zero waste. Permanent solution.


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