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pothole on the road in the rain

AA Urges Drivers to Steer Clear of Puddles to Safeguard Vehicles from Pothole Damage

In response to a surge in breakdowns attributed to potholes, the AA is advising drivers to exercise caution and "avoid puddles." With over half a million call-outs in the current year, averaging more than 1,500 daily, the motoring group attributes the increase to adverse weather conditions and recent storms like Babet, Ciaran, and Debi, adversely affecting road surfaces.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's commitment of over £8 billion last month to combat the "scourge of potholes" underscores the severity of the issue. Analysis by the RAC indicates that drivers face an average repair cost of £440 for damages beyond punctures caused by potholes, including distorted wheels, damaged shock absorbers, and broken suspension springs.

Potholes, often formed by water infiltrating road cracks, escalate during icy winter weather cycles of freezing and thawing, weakening the road structure and leading to material detachment.

Tony Rich from the AA emphasises the dual impact of "continuous poor weather" and recent storms, hampering driving conditions. He advises drivers to avoid puddles where possible and, if unavoidable, to reduce speed and maintain increased following distances.

In October, the AA responded to 52,541 call-outs for vehicles damaged by road defects, marking a 12% increase compared to the same month last year. This surpasses the previous record set in October 2017 by 389 call-outs.

While the Prime Minister's allocation of funds towards pothole repairs has been acknowledged, councils argue that the cost of local road repairs stands at around £14 billion, exceeding the £8 billion announced by Sunak. Darren Rodwell of the Local Government Association views the new funding positively, indicating it will aid in bringing the local road network up to standard, including pothole repairs impacted by inflation.

Looking ahead, Rodwell suggests the government should provide council transport departments with five-yearly funding allocations to develop comprehensive resurfacing programs and other highway improvements. A Department for Transport spokesperson states that they are already investing over £5.5 billion in highways maintenance, with the recent Network North announcement delivering an additional £8.3 billion—the largest-ever increase in funding for local road improvements. This funding is sufficient to resurface up to 5,000 miles of roads.