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Our shocking roads

Sadly, all too many drivers in the UK have experienced one of the most depressing features of British motoring. Usually it comes as a complete surprise and is accompanied by a loud thump and a juddering jolt: you have hit a pothole. A recent survey of more than 22,000 motorists by the AA confirms that the problem is only getting worse. It seems that 30% more potholes have been reported at the beginning of this year in comparison to the same period in 2012.

Sadly, all too many drivers in the UK have experienced one of the most depressing features of British motoring. Usually it comes as a complete surprise and is accompanied by a loud thump and a juddering jolt: you have hit a pothole. A recent survey of more than 22,000 motorists by the AA confirms that the problem is only getting worse. It seems that 30% more potholes have been reported at the beginning of this year in comparison to the same period in 2012. The deteriorating condition of our roads looks to be linked to the wider economy as local councils struggle with slashed budgets and look for ways to cut costs. This appears to have contributed to a backlog that is reckoned by the Asphalt Industry Alliance to be in the region of £2.5 billion across England and Wales.

 
As we come into spring it is worth noting that the problem has a seasonal dimension too. Wet weather coupled with repeated freezing and thawing results in deepening and widening cracks and finally potholes. President of the AA, Edmund King commented: "This spring our patrols are telling us that potholes are popping up faster than daffodils. This reflects the effects of very wet and frosty weather on poor road surfaces. What is even more worrying is the fact that the new 2013 Asphalt Industry Alliance 'Alarm Survey' reveals the scale of the problem from a local authority perspective and things look particularly bleak, with more potholes, a bigger maintenance backlog and less cash. Ring-fenced finance must be found to plug an increasing gap in highway budgets - otherwise drivers and local authorities will end up paying more to repair damage that could have been prevented. We urge drivers to report potholes to highways authorities to allow them to take action and prevent road users from being endangered and their vehicles suffering damage".
 
For hard-pressed motorists already struggling with rising fuel costs in an economy when wages are stagnant, that damage can be expensive. The most basic damage will be a burst tyre but broken springs and shock absorbers are becoming more and more common. Garage bills for this type of damage can run into hundreds of pounds. Many drivers are not claiming for smaller bills for fear of losing their no-claims bonus but even so, insurance company e-Sure has reported a 600% jump in pothole related claims over the last few years. With climatologists predicting even wetter winters for the UK in the years ahead and government austerity measures continuing, the pothole problem will only become more of a shock to drivers.
 

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