National Motorcyclists Council to help tackle pothole epidemic

The NMC has joined a new partnership that is going to help improve the UK’s growing pothole problem

Potholes filled with water

Potholes are a problem in the UK, and as any road user knows, encountering one can be costly, and in some cases dangerous. And despite the UK government pouring money into road repairs in the last few years, it’s not a problem that seems to be getting better.

That may change going forward, as a number of road user groups have formed an alliance called The Pothole Partnership, whose sole aim is to help improve the situation for all.

Within the new partnership are the National Motorcyclists Council, British Cycling, IAM RoadSmart, the British Motorcyclists Federation and the heavy machine manufacturer JCB. Each member represents a different type of road user, from motorcyclists, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. JCB is included to hold the flag for those who have to go out and repair the roads.

The AA’s riveting-sounding Pothole Index (no seriously, it’s an actual thing!) highlights 2023 as the worst year of the last five for pothole-related mishaps. It also reveals that the yellow vans were called out to 631,852 pothole-related incidents, costing road users an estimated £474,000,000.

The RAC’s own pothole index showed that people driving and riding on UK roads are more than one and a half times more likely to experience damage to their vehicle caused by potholes than they were 15 years ago.

Additionally, the RAC reports that it was called out to 29,377 breakdowns in 2023 “for faults including broken suspension springs, damaged shock absorbers and distorted wheels”. This represented a 33 per cent increase over 2022. 

Further, the RAC was called out to 5,153 breakdowns specifically caused by potholes between October and December alone, which it says made 2023’s the worst fourth quarter of a year for pothole-caused breakdowns since 2017.

To help reduce the number of incidents and costs to road users, The Pothole Partnership will now press the case to the UK government for more ‘effective and permanent’ road repairs. It has also laid out a five-point plan to help motorists on the path to smoother roads.

The Pothole Partnership Five-Point Plan

Permanent: Local authorities to limit the practice of temporary pothole repairs or patches and, where possible, every pothole or patch to be repaired permanently. 

Precise: All local authorities/contractors to adhere to UK-wide repair and inspection standards, and report annually on the repairs undertaken.

Price: Government to demonstrate greater urgency by accelerating and increasing spending of the £8.3bn pothole funding for England in the first three years – with total clarity on the distribution to local authorities.

Provision: Central and local government to guarantee ringfencing of ALL road maintenance funding to help deliver innovations that enable permanent repairs.

Progress: Full transparency from local authorities on their roads repair backlog, categorised by potholes, patching works and road resurfacing.

Speaking about the new partnership, Craig Carey-Clinch, Executive Director, National Motorcyclists Council, said: 

“The situation is becoming ever more acute for motorcyclists and the issue is a top-ranking concern among riders. Potholes and other road surface related defects are already shown to be extremely dangerous for motorcycle riders. The same pothole that damages a car, could prove fatal to a rider. The pothole hazard is heightened if potholes fill with water in poor weather, or they are encountered at night. Action is needed now to urgently clear the backlog of repairs. The NMC fully supports the Pothole Partnership and urges the Government to front load the £8.3billion that has been announced. The problem is now, not in seven- or nine-years time.”

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