Poor pothole repairs pose a serious threat to road safety, according to a Fife motorists’ group.
The local branch of IAM RoadSmart – a charity working to improve driving standards and road safety – warns that road defects and substandard repairs are a “major concern for all road users”.
They say local authorities are “fire fighting” to contain the problem after more than a decade of public spending cuts.
Mark Ellis, who chairs the Kingdom of Fife Group IAM, says potholes are particularly dangerous for “vulnerable” road users such as motorcyclists and cyclists.
Highlighting a recent incident, he said: “A motorcyclist was coming round a right-hand bend and hit a pothole. This threw the bike to the left onto a series of further potholes.
“They received minor injuries and damage to their motorcycle. This was due to the extremely poor road conditions.”
Nobody wants the killed or seriously injured statistics to go up.”
Mark Ellis, Kingdom of Fife Group IAM
He added: “The rolling programmes or road repairs were massively disrupted by the budget cuts of the 2008 recession.
“Roads authorities have been ‘fire fighting’ ever since.
“Nobody wants the killed or seriously injured statistics to go up. We should be putting as much effort as possible into keeping our roads in good condition.”
Across Fife, nearly £10 million is being spent by the council on roads maintenance over the next two years.
And Perth and Kinross Council recently boosted its roads budget by £4m, to pledge a record £14m for carriageway repairs this financial year.
However, Mr Ellis says a question mark hangs over whether the work will get done.
“Councils are unlikely to have the staff to deliver this extra work. It’s unlikely the contractors will have the capacity to meet the demand,” he said.
Potholes ‘left far too long’
Mr Ellis says poor pothole repairs are compounding the problem.
“Potholes themselves are left far too long before any repair work is carried out.
“There appears to be a general reliance on the public to report these faults rather than a proactive approach.
“Other concerns relating to potholes is that the repairs to them are only temporary and often poor repairs.”
Potholes a growing issue for motorists
A recent report by IAM RoadSmart indicated that 75% of motorists perceive potholes to be a bigger issue than they were three years ago.
And potholes have affected nearly nine out of every 10 drivers over the last year.
Mr Ellis says more durable materials could be used to prevent poor pothole repairs.
“Governments talk to us about recycling and plastic is a big issue,” he said.
“There are countries out there using recycled plastic as part of the materials for the roads and have found to have had no loss of traction but greater longevity.
“Surely this is something we need to look at for the future?”
Mr Ellis says if motorists are looking out for potholes, they are not concentrating on the road ahead.
“The presence of defects on the carriageway can alter the road users positioning. That can result in conflict with other users,” he said.
“This again is significant for cyclists and motorcyclists.
“Safe driving depends a lot on observations, particularly of hazards ahead.”