UK companies responsible for ‘plague of potholes’ set for new government penalties

UK companies responsible for ‘plague of potholes’ set for new government penalties
The government has announced that it will be introducing new measures to penalise companies responsible for leaving potholes on the country’s roads after carrying out street works.

It is expected the new law change could prevent thousands of potholes being left behind by utility companies nationwide and will ensure more roads are resurfaced to a high standard.

The RAC’s expert patrols attended over 10,000 pothole-related breakdowns last year – the equivalent of 27 every single day and the highest annual total since 2018.

The RAC Pothole Index, which analyses pothole-related breakdowns together with the seasonal effects of the weather to give a true long-term indication of the condition of the UK’s roads, now stands at 1.63, up from 1.48 at the end of September 2021.

This means drivers are more than one-and-a-half times more likely to breakdown after hitting a pothole today than they were when the RAC started collecting this data back in 2006.

Today’s announcement is part of the government’s aim to spare motorists from damage to car tyres or suspensions caused by driving over potholes, helping them save money on expensive repairs.

As part of the government’s new plan to tackle the issue, a new performance-based inspections regime will be introduced.

This will analyse where the worst performing utility companies whose road works fail to meet strict standards will face financial penalties.

Following an investigation, these companies will go on to be inspected more regularly by local authorities to ensure their work meets rigorous criteria and they leave roads in a good condition.

The RAC Guide to the Great British Pothole and Other Road Surface Defects states that giving local authorities enough money to bring all of the UK’s roads up to a standard that is fit for purpose is important for motorists across the country.

Why is this change happening now?

Currently, the majority of companies carry out street works across the UK pass their inspections.

However, a growing trend has revealed that utility companies are on average failing 9% of the inspections that are carried out on them,

Shockingly, the worst performing utility company is failing a significant 63% of its inspections.

As a result, one of the other aims of the plans are to ensure companies will now be required to provide local authorities and the Department for Transport’s Street Manager Service with more up to date and accurate data on live road works.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The plague of potholes is the menace of our roads. That’s why I’m ensuring companies who create them and leave roads in a poor state can be held to account more easily – protecting drivers from unfair repair costs.

“We’ve already invested billions of pounds into roads maintenance, helping local authorities keep their highways well maintained and I’ll continue working to make sure all road-users around the country can enjoy the safe, world-class infrastructure they deserve.”

RAC’s response to the pothole penalties plan

Following the government’s announcement, RAC Head of Roads Policy, Nicholas Lyes, said: “While roadworks are frustrating at the best of times, it’s even worse when utility companies leave roads in a sub-standard state when the temporary traffic lights are finally removed.

“Poorly carried out reinstatement work very often leads to road surfaces breaking down, unnecessarily causing potholes much to the annoyance of drivers.

“Introducing a performance-based inspections scheme should force utilities companies to raise their game and should ultimately lead to smoother and safer journeys for all road users.”

What do you think about the latest announcement from the government regarding the future of potholes in the UK? Leave your comment below.

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