Motortrades Insight Magazine Online

AA president Edmund King on deadly potholes

Ref:A0518
Published: 24 July 2013

potholes in britain


The AA’s president Edmund King had his Mercedes E-Class wrecked by potholes earlier this year, as he was filling it with petrol in the Hertfordshire town of St Albans, when the whole front of the estate collapsed.


Now, the outspoken boss has told Motortrades Insight the truth about killer potholes. “We actually describe it as a plague of potholes out there,” Mr King said. “We’ve had three pretty bad winters that have deteriorated the roads and many of the local highway authorities just can’t keep up. And it is a hazard to pedestrians and motorists and mostly to cyclists and motorcyclists where it really can be a matter of life or death.


In March 2010, Capt Jonathan Allen, who served in Afghanistan, was killed after being hit by a lorry as he swerved to avoid his bicycle dipping into a deep pothole in Wiltshire. “He was not killed by a bomb in Afghanistan, but by a pothole in Wiltshire.”


“It’s a safety issue. But also, it is a financial issue. In a survey, a third of AA members had their cars damaged by potholes within the last two years, including me. I had a rather graphic experience in my own estate car. I went over a few potholes, went to fill up the diesel, heard a strange sound and didn’t know what the heck it was.


“When I went to the front, I saw the whole front of the car had actually collapsed. And the springs on the suspension had actually broken. So it is a classic reminder of what can happen from hitting some potholes.”


POOR QUALITY ASPHALT


“I think one of the problems is that we’ve got a kind of patch and patch mentality and sometimes, when you’re trying to repair a pothole, if it’s just two and a half inches deep, when you’re trying to fill it in, that pothole will occur and reoccur weeks later,” he said. “There’s one on a cycle ride that I do where the local authority does fix it, but at least once a month they have to refill it again. It gets to the stage for the life of the road when you’ve actually got to resurface it and you can’t just have a stick and plaster solution.


“We called upon the Chancellor in the spending review to actually allocate more money for road maintenance but also to ring-fence it. Part of the problem is that when money goes to local authorities for potholes, it isn’t ring-fenced so it can be spent on other things. 


“So we believe that a proportion of motoring taxes should be ring-fenced for the roads and then that sum that is ring-fenced has to be spent on road maintenance and fixing potholes. 


“It’s the number one issue for drivers today.”

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