Nine out of 10 drivers affected by potholes in 2020

  • Latest survey shows potholes are an increasing problem
  • 89% of drivers consider them to be a major safety concern
  • Car damage by potholes affected 12% of drivers surveyed

Potholes have affected nine in 10 drivers in 2020

According to road safety charity IAM Roadsmart's latest annual Safety Culture Report, 89% of drivers have been affected by potholes during 2020. The issue of poor road maintenance is now a major concern for motorists.

The survey, which tracks drivers’ attitudes to key road safety issues, shows just how big a problem potholes are. It found that 75% now consider them to be a bigger issue for road users than they were three years ago. This was followed by driver distraction (68%) – such as texting or talking on a mobile phone - and traffic congestion (65%).

The report is now in its sixth year and involves canvassing the opinions of more than 2,000 motorists. It should make sober reading for local authorities, as drivers report that their councils are failing to keep on top of road maintenance. It also found that 31% of drivers had changed their route to avoid a pothole with more than half (54%) having had to steer away or brake hard to avoid impact and damage.

Regional variations

How big a problem potholes appears to be depends on where you live. For those in the south east, 81% of drivers considered potholes to be a bigger road safety issue than three years ago, whereas that figure (surprisingly) drops to 61% in London and 64% in the north east.

The numbers certainly back up drivers' concerns. It is currently estimated that there are some 42,675 miles of UK roads classed as being in poor structural condition, costing an estimated £11.14 billion to bring them up to a level which they could be maintained cost effectively going forward, according to Asphalt Industry Alliance.

However, IAM RoadSmart’s research also found that just 12% of drivers had enough damage to their car caused by the pothole to require a repair and only 16% had reported a pothole to the authorities. Just 7% then went on and made a claim for the damage.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart Director of Policy & Research, said: 'The pothole situation on UK roads has now become much more than just irritating, it’s a significant threat to personal safety.  We simply can’t have vehicles swerving into oncoming traffic or slamming on their brakes without warning to avoid them. Deteriorating roads also put pedestrians and cyclists at greater risk.'

What this means for you

The state of the roads is no laughing matter and following this year's wet and cold winter, the sheer number of potholes has multiplied in recent weeks. We advise that aside from driving with potholes in mind (go more slowly and look ahead), if you do spot a severe pothole, or suffer from damage, get it reported to your local council as soon as you can.

>> How to claim for pothole damage

Citroen C5 Aircross on a potholed road