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Are UK road conditions really improving?

01 Jun 2012 at 15:44

There is always much discussion after each successive harsh winter about our roads needing improvement, and there are sometimes Government pledges to increase its road transport budget for repairs. However, is anything actually being done to rectify the shocking condition of our nation’s carriageways?

According to a study by the Department for Transport, the answer is no – the condition of Council roads in the UK failed to improve between 2008 and 2011, according to official figures.

Data provided by 89 local authorities showed that 38 per cent of Councils reported deterioration in the quality of minor roads between 2010 and 2011. The rate of disrepair for main roads was even higher, at 40 per cent.

So where is the money earmarked for road repairs going? Put simply, with the UK dipping back into recession, transport budgets have been cut to the extent that not all carriageways are eligible to be fixed. In many circumstances, only the most scarred tarmac in the UK receives maintenance.

Many are worried, though. Although pothole or two might not be the end of the world, if left unchecked, decrepit roads can pose a serious safety hazard.

Motorbike riders and cyclists are at particularly high risk of damage. Large crevices in our highways can throw pedal bike riders and motorcyclists off course, causing them to fall off and sustain damage to their vehicle, or in the worst case, risk serious injury in hitting a roadside object or a fellow road user.

Decaying roads can also damage vehicles, inducing expensive car insurance claims and upping premiums for everyone.

The tarmac in the worst condition was found to be centred around the southeast of England, with a focus on the capital – in particular, the boroughs of Haringey and Newham.

So, what can be done to help improve the condition of our thoroughfares? Short of road users paying for repairs themselves, not much, unfortunately. In uncertain economic times, it is peripheral initiatives such as road improvements that play second fiddle to the main issues of health and welfare.

Even though we’re only just breaking into the summer season, it looks like the UK might have to endure yet another winter of misery on the roads…