RAC deals with record number of third-quarter pothole breakdowns

Multiple potholes on a British road

Potholes can cause a lot of damage to cars

The state of Britain’s roads appears to be getting worse year on year according to the latest RAC data. Have you noticed yourself driving around more potholes recently? 

Highest number of pothole callouts since 2006 

From July to September 2023, the RAC went to 5,978 pothole-related callouts. These callouts involved damage including damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs and distorted wheels – all problems that can be caused by defective road surfaces. 

The callouts were up by 580 on the previous third-quarter high of 5,398 in 2013. In the same period in 2022 there were 4,085 callouts for pothole-related incidents, meaning 2023 has seen a 46% increase. 

However, July to September is not the worst quarter of the year for pothole breakdowns. January to March has the most pothole-related callouts for the RAC.  

2021 holds the record, with 14,827 vehicles breaking down between January and March due to potholes or other road surface damage. 

RAC Pothole Index 

The RAC Pothole Index is used to track the probability of drivers suffering a pothole-related breakdown. The index has now increased to 1.7. This means motorists are nearly twice as likely to break down due to repeated damage from potholes than they were 17 years ago, when the RAC first started tracking the data. 

Punctures aren’t included in the figures as they can be caused by nails and other debris as well as poor road surfaces. But between July and September 2023, the RAC went to 101,000 callouts relating to punctures –an 8% increase on the same period in 2022. This could indicate that poor road surfaces are at least partially to blame. 

Drivers can expect to pay an average of £440 to fix anything more serious than a puncture if their car is damaged by a pothole or other road damage, according to data analysed by the RAC.  

Sub-standard local roads 

RAC head of policy Simon Williams says: “Our analysis of pothole-related breakdowns is sadly once again showing that the sub-standard state of the country’s local roads is causing a world of pain for drivers.” 

The Government has promised £8.3billion in funding for local highway authorities so they can plan longer-term road maintenance.  

But Williams says: “Our analysis of government data shows that many are no longer surfacing dressing their roads which partly explains why so many are now peppered with potholes.  

“Our message to government is therefore not just to get the potholes fixed, but to get councils using surface dressing again as this helps seal roads, which prevents water getting in and cracking the asphalt when the temperature drops to freezing.” 

If you’d like to know more about Britain’s roads, check out our blog on drivers’ reactions to the state of Britain’s roads. 


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