Winter is coming… and that means potholes are too

As winter gets its chilly claws into the UK, there are concerns that motorcyclists are being put in hazard's way by the worsening state of the roads

Winter is coming… and that means potholes are too

Though it has been a relatively mild winter thus far, stormy weather and a predicted cold snap in the next few weeks are likely to take a more forceful grip, bringing with it the annual hazards that ramps up the risks to riders.

For motorcyclists, riding during winter can be a foolhardy experience with the longer dark spells, cold temperatures and more volatile weather – rain, ice, snow – making things treacherous and challenging enough for the more novice among you.

However, while one cannot always account for the actions of a reckless driver or poor manoeuvrability, one thing we should be able to rely on is the quality of the road beneath us.

Unfortunately, local councils and the Department for Transport have consistently fallen short on the finance and resources needed to fix breaks in the road and – in particular – potholes, insurance claims from which have more than doubled over the last 13 years.

Potholes are more likely to open during winter periods as water seeps into cracks and expands as ice. Gritty materials have also been blamed for breaking up Tarmac that has in the past been accused of being badly laid and of a poor mix-quality, meaning they simply break up again.

Part of the issue is local funding for roads is only granted on an annual basis, which doesn’t give councils enough time to implement maintenance to prevent potholes from developing.

With a report in July proclaiming potholes as a ‘national scandal’ costing almost £1billion in damage to vehicles, it is estimated a huge £12billion is needed just to bring roads in the UK up to an acceptable standard.

With this in mind, the DfT wants this funding assured on a multi-year term, rather than it being handed out annually.

“A multiyear settlement could support prudential borrowing by providing local authorities with greater budget certainty. A long-term consistent funding certainty is important to ensure that highway authorities can make effective decisions and to seek efficiencies through the supply chain.”

A freedom of information act in 2018 revealed there were reports of 512,270 potholes in the United Kingdom that year, while economic experts ranked the UK lower than Namibia, Ecuador and Malaysia in terms of road quality in 2017.