The condition and maintenance of local roads is the top concern among the largest percentage of motorists once again in 2016. Of those questioned, 14% say this is their number-one concern, up from 10% last year.
Almost four in 10 drivers (38%) say the state of local roads is one of their top four concerns this year: this also represents a sharp increase on last year (30%).
Just over half of drivers (51% compared with 50% in 2015) say the condition of the roads in their area has deteriorated over the past 12 months, overwhelmingly as a result of potholes (cited by 97% of respondents). However, roadside litter (25%) and poor grass and/or foliage maintenance (20%) are also named by many as problems.
Only 9% of motorists think that local roads have improved since 2015 – this represents a very small drop from last year’s 10% who thought the condition of local roads had improved over the previous 12 months. In terms of demographics, older drivers and those in rural locations are more likely to think that the condition of roads has deteriorated.
By way of contrast, a majority of motorists (61%) think that the condition of the motorways and dual carriageways they use has not changed over the past 12 months (up from 58% in 2015). And only 7% think they have improved against 9% who took this view last year, perhaps indicating it is still too early for motorists to see the benefits of the Road Investment Strategy in terms of the condition of the existing network.
Condition of motorways and local roads
51% say the condition of the local roads has deteriorated over the past 12 months
61% think the condition of motorways and dual carriageways has stayed the same since 2015
9% of motorists think that local roads have actually improved since 2015
97% of those who said that the condition of local roads is worse, said it's due to potholes and poor road surface
14% say the condition and maintenance of local roads is their top concern
Of the 28% who think the state of major roads has declined, 83% cite surface quality, including potholes, as one of the problems they face, although litter (28%), lane-marking visibility (24%) and carriageway lighting (15%) are also issues.
Concern about the state of local roads has grown despite some attempt by the Government to increase expenditure on local road infrastructure. Ministers have promised to pump £6bn into local road maintenance between 2015 and 202117 while in the March 2016 Budget, the Government announced the creation of a £50m-a-year Pothole Action Fund to target the roads in greatest need of repair18.
This follows analysis from the Department for Transport which found that there was a backlog of up to £8.6bn in spending on local road maintenance19.
However, the latest independent findings from the Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) suggest the true picture may be even more gloomy. The organisation’s Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) report published in March 201620 found that, despite the commitment to extra state funding, local authority highways departments in England claimed that funding has dropped by 16% on average since last year. The report also said that the amount of investment needed to bring roads in England and Wales up to an acceptable level had remained just below £12 billion.