Emergency funding plea for crumbling roads

Emergency road maintenance funding is needed to stop crumbling roads costing more in compensation and accidents, according to the AA today.Drivers who think they will be in the clear after the thawing of the snow will find an aggravated plague of potholes to contend with in the coming months, the AA has also warned.

Emergency road maintenance funding is needed to stop crumbling roads costing more in compensation and accidents, according to the AA today.

Drivers who think they will be in the clear after the thawing of the snow will find an aggravated plague of potholes to contend with in the coming months, the AA has also warned. Last February's heavy snow pushed up insurance claims for pothole damage by more than 250pc.

Repairing the potholed roads will cost local highway authorities hundreds of millions of pounds. If the roads are not repaired then drivers, cyclists and motorbike riders will be at risk from expensive damage and injuries. Insurance companies will be hit and more claims and potential injuries will add to NHS costs - already hit by the increase in fractured bones as a result of icy pavements. Cash-strapped councils could well face a deluge of claims from road users and the risk of paying out more in compensation than on road repairs themselves.

The AA argues that the worst areas for potholes will be:


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Stretches of road where potholes have been poorly repaired in the past.

Stretches of road where utility reinstatements have been poor.

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Stretches of road that have not been salted as salt tends to melt the snow before it turns to ice.

Stretches of road hit by consistent sub-zero temperatures.

The AA believes that in the national interest there is a strong case for emergency extra maintenance funding for councils to head off the threat of the vicious circle of compensation claims and hospital costs outweighing the cost of repair to the roads.

Last year's Alarm survey of local authority highway departments found that more than �63m was spent filling in potholes during 2008-09. However, a further �47m was lost to compensation claims and extra staff costs. Even without the impact of February's bad weather, the number of potholes in England and Wales had increased 32pc over the previous year.

Edmund King, AA president, said: 'The pothole season has come early this year. Drivers will be relieved when the snow has gone but shouldn't be complacent. Due to the severe winter, it could be a record year for potholes - a million scars of the worst winter in 30 years.

'We are already getting a lot of calls from our members and patrols about potholes. Hitting a pothole can damage the tyre, wheel, suspension or steering or even cause an accident. They can be dangerous for drivers but, unfortunately, potentially lethal for those on two wheels.

'Over time, cracks appear in the road surface, so when water seeps in, it freezes and expands, widening the crack. We are concerned that, with local authorities already stretched due to the drain of the winter, there will be enough in the purse to heal our ravaged roads. We believe that emergency funding is required to stop the vicious circle of crumbling roads costing more in compensation, accident claims and hospital admissions. We are asking road-users to report potholes on the AA Zone via www.theAA.com.'

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