Council road maintenance drops to lowest point in five years

The wheel of a silver car on a road covered in potholes

Road maintenance is the lowest it’s been in five years

Road maintenance in 2022/23 dropped to the lowest it’s been in five years according to RAC, analysis of the latest government statistics.

Just 4% of A roads maintained 

There are 17,853 miles of A roads in England and only 4% of these (764 miles) were strengthened, resurfaced or preserved in the last financial year. This is a 37% decrease from the 2017/18 financial year, where 1,222 miles were maintained.  

For minor roads; B, C and unclassified, the number was 3,380 miles in the most recent financial year compared to 6,288 miles five years ago, a 46% drop.  

How were the roads maintained? 

Road resurfacing: 1,223 miles of all roads were completely resurfaced in the 2022/23 financial year, a 9% increase from 2021/22, but a 22% drop from six years ago. 

Preservation treatments:  2,698 miles of roads were given preservation treatments in the last financial year, a 25% drop from 2021/22, and a 50% drop from the 5,345 miles treated five years ago. 

Preservation treatments, ie surface dressing and micro surfacing, are mostly used as preventative treatments to prevent the need to completely resurface the road. 

The latest data reveals more than a third (35%) of 158 road authorities failed to carry out any road resurfacing work at all, while 61% did no preservation maintenance work.  

Over the last 12 months, the average length of roads resurfaced by all authorities was just 17 miles and 28 miles for preservation work.  

Have poorly maintained roads affected drivers? 

The state of the roads has indeed had an adverse effect on drivers. According to previous RAC reports, 2023 saw the highest amount of pothole related callouts since 2006.  

Potholes can cause damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs and distorted wheels, all things that are relatively expensive to fix. It’s also been found that breaking suddenly, the natural reaction to spotting a pothole in the road, can actually cause more damage to your car than just steadily driving over them. 

RAC comments 

Head of policy Simon Williams said: “It’s especially concerning to see that so few miles of A roads received any form of road maintenance last year when these important routes are used by millions of drivers every day. Meanwhile, our minor roads that are essential in connecting rural areas have received barely a crumb of the pie.”  

Williams points out that this is a low point considering how car-dependent the country is. He then suggests councils should take a ‘traffic light’ approach to road maintenance. 

“Roads in ‘green’ and ‘amber’ conditions should undergo preventative maintenance by filling potholes and carrying out the most appropriate surface dressing treatment between April and September. This will seal the roads against water and prevent cracking in the cold winter months. Roads deemed to be in ‘red’ condition need to be fully resurfaced, or strengthened, as no amount of preventative treatment will stop them from falling apart.” 

Check out our blog to find out how potholes can cause damage. 

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