Survey highlights concerns over condition of local roads

09.05 | 4 December 2019 |

Image: RAC

Nearly half of UK drivers believe the condition and maintenance of local roads has deteriorated over the past 12 months, a survey suggests.

The survey was carried out by the RAC as part of its 2019 Report on Motoring, with 49% of respondents saying the roads in their area have worsened in the last year, compared to just  11% who believe they have improved.

While the RAC survey shows potholes and related road-surface problems take most of the blame for the worsening conditions (95%) – other factors include concerns about grass and foliage (22%) and signage visibility (17%). 

The RAC believes the latter two issues may be linked, with substandard roadside foliage maintenance leading to an increase in signs being obscured by vegetation.

The RAC survey also appears to highlight a clear town-versus-country divide, with respondents based in rural locations being almost 10% more likely to say their local road conditions have worsened in the past 12 months.

Meanwhile, 25% of London-based motorists say conditions are in fact better this year, against the UK-wide average of 11%.

The RAC says the state of local roads is ‘always one of the biggest bugbears for drivers’.

Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of roads policy, said: “Despite data from our patrols revealing fewer of the breakdowns they have attended this year have been related to pothole damage, it seems that drivers still feel that road surfaces are not as good as they should be. 

“Those living in rural areas definitely feel more hard done by, perhaps because they rely on their cars more than those in towns and cities so they are more inclined to notice defects that hinder their journeys.”

‘Very clear divide’ between local roads and motorways
Drivers’ views on motorway and major dual-carriageway conditions are more positive according to the survey, but there is still considerable room for improvement. 

Well over twice as many motorists – 28% – think the conditions on these roads have worsened over the past 12 months as think they have improved (11%).

Nicholas Lyes added: “There is also a very clear divide between opinions about the condition of local roads and motorways and dual carriageways, with local roads appearing to be in a far worse state than their major road counterparts. 

“This points towards the difference in the way both are funded with only major roads having certainty of funding from central government.

“We believe local roads are just as vital to the UK’s economy so should be treated in a similar way which would allow local authorities to plan routine maintenance rather just filling in potholes as they appear.”



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