Local authorities need to invest more than £10bn to get roads across England and Wales “back in shape”, according to a new report by the RAC.
The organisation has also called on Scottish authorities to conduct “swift corrective maintenance” to damaged roads in the Highlands.
This follows RAC’s annual local authority road maintenance survey, which highlighted that despite a 15% increase in highway maintenance budgets, road conditions across the UK have not improved.
Furthermore, the survey reveals budgets are still lower than they were two years ago.
The RAC used Scotland’s popular North Coast 500 route as an example, describing some stretches as featuring “suspension-destroying” potholes.
RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “This year, the colder winter we’ve had means potholes are likely to make driving some stretches of the route a lot less enjoyable, but they also risk causing expensive damage to vehicles.
“Without some swift corrective maintenance it looks as though the arrival of spring could coincide with many more drivers running into problems.”
According to the RAC’s figures, between October and December 2020, its patrols attended more than 1,400 breakdowns in the UK, where potholes were most likely to be the cause.
The RAC warned that, while there has been an increase in the number of potholes filled over the last 12 months, this shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a positive.
It quoted a new report by the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA), which described the increase in funding used to repeatedly fill in potholes as a failure, doing “nothing to improve the resilience of the network”.
The AIA called for a longer-term approach to local road funding, similar to the five-year commitment given to motorways and major A-roads.
Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of roads policy, said: “The AIA’s report lays bare the pressure on local authorities who are grappling with crumbling road surfaces.
“On the one hand additional money allows them to fix potholes but the inconsistent nature of this funding often means they focus on short-term quick fixes rather than preventing them from occurring in the first place.
“Potholes are a nuisance and not only cause expensive vehicle damage but can also lead to serious injury or even worse.
“Without a long-term approach to local road maintenance funding, similar to what we already have for strategic roads, we face our roads remaining in a perpetually poor state.”