AA comments on Government’s report on road conditions
The Government’s Road Conditions in England Report brings a mixed bag of results with some minor improvements on certain road categories and deteriorating roads elsewhere. Generally the AA believes that a great proportion of motoring taxation should be ring-fenced for road improvements.
Edmund King, the AA’s president, says: “On the one level it is a relief that the condition of England’s local Principal A roads have remained the same since the previous year with 4 per cent of the network needing maintenance, however unclassified roads are in a pretty dire state with 18 per cent needing work.
“Motorways and trunk roads generally have got worse in the last couple of years with 3 per cent of motorways and 5 per cent of A roads needing maintenance. AA patrols have reported more motorway defects as there has been a policy shift whereby motorway potholes are ‘saved up’ until there is a stretch that needs repairing rather than individual defects. Drivers and more importantly motorcyclists can’t assume that motorway surfaces will always be smooth. Nor can they assume that skid resistance has improved in the last couple of years as 12 per cent of A roads and 5 per cent of motorways now have skidding resistance at or below investigatory levels. London local authorities also reported the widest range of proportions from 4 to 24 per cent needing work.
“There is a certain irony that the London region has the highest proportion of its principal network that should be considered for maintenance of all the English regions at 12 per cent because London has the busiest roads and the greatest proportion of two wheelers who are at greatest risk from potholes.”
It’s at local street level that the situation is particularly perilous. “AA members in our Populus polls say many local roads remain perilous and have gone to pot,” says King. “For example, half of the 18,806 AA members surveyed by Populus in January said that heavy rain turns their local roads into a treacherous patchwork of puddles, ponds and small lakes, and two-thirds said that councils don’t seem to clear drains as well as they used to. Puddled roads are particularly perilous as often the potholes are hidden.
“The Government has had to pump extra funds into filling the potholes and trying to catch up with the road maintenance that should have been done years ago. There is a bitter irony that huge amounts of public money have had to be set aside for roads during a period of austerity – after road maintenance was cut back during the boom times before the credit crunch.
“This must not be allowed to happen again. A greater proportion of fuel duty should be ring-fenced and spent on roads.
“Drivers think two thirds of fuel duty should be spent on roads compared to the miserable one third that is currently spent. They want their money spent patching up potholes and unplugging pinch points.
“Drivers should question all political parties on their pothole policy prior to the election.”