The RAC says extra funding for councils to carry out highway maintenance, alongside a mild winter, has led to an improvement in the quality of UK roads.
Figures published by the breakdown organisation on 10 May show that its patrols attended 3,276 pothole-related breakdowns in Q1 of 2019 – a year-on-year fall of 41% (5,540 in Q1 2018).
The Q1 2019 figure represents 1.5% of the 211,485 breakdowns attended, lower than the first quarters of 2018 (2.3%) and 2017 (2.7%) – and the same as Q1 2016 (1.5%).
Meanwhile, the RAC’s Pothole Index – based on a quarterly rolling analysis of pothole-related breakdowns – also suggests the health of UK roads is on the rise.
The index, which began at a base of 1.00 in 2006 when the RAC started recording data, now stands at 2.3 – meaning motorists are nearly two and a half times more likely to suffer a pothole breakdown than they were 12 years ago.
However, the Q1 figure is lower than Q4 2018 – when it stood at 2.5. It is also the lowest index score since Q2 2017 when drivers were 2.2 times more likely to encounter a pothole.
The RAC believes mild winter weather across much of the UK – alongside extra funding for councils – has prevented further deterioration of road surfaces.
Simon Williams, RAC breakdown spokesperson, said: “Our data gathered from our patrols’ work at the roadside encouragingly shows there has been a slight improvement in the quality of road surfaces around the country as fewer vehicles have been stricken by broken shock absorbers, suspension springs and distorted wheels.
“This will almost certainly be in part due to the mild winter weather that has helped to prevent road surfaces that were already damaged breaking down further.
“Our findings seem to correlate with data from the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey which shows that for the second consecutive year, local authorities’ highway maintenance budgets have increased by almost 20%.
“But while more local authority highway maintenance funding seems to be making a positive difference there is still a long way to go before their roads are brought back to a truly fit-for-purpose state.”