Report: The UK’s Pothole Problem

Potholes in the UK are becoming more common on our roads and can sometimes take months until they’re fixed by the council. Potholes are especially problematic for cyclists, and if the results of this new report by the RAC are anything to go by, things aren’t looking good. Now we ask the question on everybody’s mind: just how bad is the pothole situation in Britain? VW service provider Inchcape Volkswagen explores…

Although cars are the most common vehicle on our roads, drivers aren’t the only people to suffer from potholes. Cyclists also suffer the consequences and unfortunately for them, hitting a pothole can have a much more severe outcome. According to a report from the Independent, 50 cyclists are killed or seriously injured due to the dangers in our roads, and this is becoming a more frequent problem.

Cars aren’t immune either. Figures from the RAC showed that over 6,000 breakdowns between January and March of 2017 were likely because of poor road surfaces. The last time that so many pothole-related breakdowns were recorded in a three-month period was in the first quarter of 2015 (almost 6,900 breakdowns were recorded then). However, in the early months of 2015, the country was subjected to more days of frost and rainfall when compared to the first three months of 2017, when the nation experienced mild and moderately dry conditions.

The chief engineer from the RAC said: “Our figures sadly show a surprising and unwelcome first quarter rise in the number of breakdowns where the poor quality of the road surface was a major factor. We had expected a figure no worse than that recorded in the first quarter of 2016 (4,026) and it is very concerning that the roads, strangely, appear to have deteriorated in a mild, comparatively dry winter.”

UK Pothole Statistics – Hotspots

The following table shows the 10 counties with the most reported pothole problems, as compiled by It is based on the number of road hazards which were reported to highway authorities:

PositionAuthorityRegionTotal reportsOpen reportsFixed reportsPercentage fixed
1SurreySouth East England7,6576,4731,14915%
2HampshireSouth East England4,1333,24184921%
3EssexSouth East England3,8042,91287823%
4HertfordshireSouth East England3,5573,00453015%
5KentSouth East England3,4783,10536410%
6LancashireNorth West England3,3012,48479224%
7OxfordshireSouth East England3,2452,22598531%
9Cheshire EastNorth West England2,9802,11078727%
10West SussexSouth East England2,8452,03478328%


Here is how the top ten places of’s league table looks when ranked on open reports though:

PositionAuthorityRegionOpen reportsTotal reportsFixed reportsPercentage fixed
1SurreySouth East England6,4737,6571,14915%
2HampshireSouth East England3,2414,13384921%
3KentSouth East England3,1053,47936410%
4HertfordshireSouth East England3,0043,55753015%
5EssexSouth East England2,9123,80487823%
6LancashireNorth West England2,4843,30179224%
8BuckinghamshireSouth East England2,3992,75434313%
9OxfordshireSouth East England2,2253,24598531%
10DevonSouth West England2,1142,51938515%


How many potholes have been filled in?

From the Asphalt Industry Alliance’s Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance Survey of 2017, we found out that the number of potholes that were filled in from 2016/2017 by the council, in England was 13,568.

The top ten authorities ranked on fixed reports in’s league table is as follows:

PositionAuthorityRegionFixed reportsTotal reportsOpen reportsPercentage fixed
1YorkYorkshire & Humber1,1871,34115189%
2SurreySouth East England1,1497,6576,47315%
3BristolSouth West England1,0941,47519985%
4OxfordshireSouth East England9853,2452,22531%
5Cheshire West & ChesterNorth West England9131,2523097%
6EssexSouth East England8783,8042,91223%
7NorthumberlandNorth East England8691,123599%
8HampshireSouth East England8494,1333,24121%
10LancashireNorth West England7923,3012,48424%


Number of drivers who have reported damage in the past 12 months (by region)*

RegionNumber of drivers
South East England941k
South West England721k
Yorkshire & Humber720k
North West England687k
West Midlands609k
Eastern England457k
East Midlands365k
North East England343k


Average cost to repair pothole damage (by region)*

RegionAverage cost
Eastern England£163.68
South East England£124.93
Yorkshire & Humber£120.00
South West England£119.01
West Midlands£87.59
North West England£87.01
East Midlands£86.33
North East England£72.66


Structural road condition percentage split in England

  • Percentage of roads across England in good condition (i.e. they have 15 years or more residual life remaining) — 53 per cent.
  • Percentage of roads across England in adequate condition (i.e. they have between five and 15 years’ residual life remaining) — 30 per cent.
  • Percentage of roads across England in poor condition (i.e. they have less than five years’ residual life remaining) — 17 per cent.

COMMENT BELOW: How is the pothole situation in your area? Do you think the situation can simply be rectified by greater investment, or are there smarter ways to help prevent/repair potholes?

2 Responses

  1. Clive Durdle says:

    Filtered permeability. Use power law to work out vehicle taxes, licence trespass of vehicles over pavement crossovers to vehicle storage and charge proportionate licence fee.

  2. Ian Ross says:

    I think that it is obvious that the use of spot repairs just doesn’t work for the long term. It is a regular site to see a pot hole for weeks or months after reporting it. Eventually you’ll see some spray paint which indicates that action is being taken with the spot repair sometime later.
    Generally speaking, you then see a repair of dubious quality with the pothole reappearing within a very short period of time. Especially when the weather is wet.

    The answer is better investment in the road network. Especially rural and minor roads.

    Surely the Ashphalt industry can tell us if the best way to handle this?

    The local authorities will plead poverty do maybe some infrastructure investment from central government is what is needed?

    The temporary repair can be a temporary solution whilst the major infrastructure investment is managed.

    Let’s face it, we need to make it safer and easier for people to give up car journies. Until the quality of the roads improves and the provision of safe and considerate cycling routes is established then those shorter local journies will not convert.

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