Report on Motoring 2016

The state of our roads

1.3 The state of our roads

For one in every seven motorists (14%), the condition and maintenance of local roads is their most pressing concern, making it the most serious issue in this year’s Report on Motoring. Problems with deteriorating road surfaces and potholes have been growing for many years now, but matters appear to be getting worse at an alarming rate, according to the drivers the RAC surveyed. In 2015, only 10% named local roads as their top concern.

Almost two-fifths of motorists (38%) listed local road conditions as a top-four concern this year, up from less than a third (30%) 12 months ago.

The Government has committed to invest £6bn into local road maintenance between 2015 and 20218 while in the March 2016 Budget, the Conservatives agreed to set up a £50m-a-year Pothole Action Fund to deal with the most serious road-surface defects9.

But it appears these policies have so far failed to have any material impact on motorists’ perceptions on the condition of local roads. This is not really surprising given that the Department for Transport’s own analysis suggested that there was an £8.6bn backlog10 in local road maintenance and independent analysis suggests the backlog may be even greater11.

Half of motorists (51%) say the state of the roads in their area has worsened over the past 12 months, with the preponderance of potholes by far the main culprit. This is against just 9% who say their local roads have in fact improved.
By way of contrast, only 2% of drivers say the state of our motorways is a top concern, while a total of 12% named this as one of their four most serious concerns.

Not surprisingly, a third of motorists (32%) still think that maintenance of local roads should be the Government’s top priority when it comes to transport investment – a slight rise on last year’s 30%.

Four-fifths (80%) think local road maintenance should be a top-five spending priority (78% in 2015).


51% of motorists say the state of the roads in their area has worsened over the past 12 months
80% of drivers think the local road maintenance should be a top-five spending priority