England's road improvement hotspots
Potholes and bad road conditions are a nuisance that near enough every driver is familiar with. Poor road surfaces don’t just make our journeys longer, they have the potential to leave our cars in need of expensive repairs too - wheels, tyres, suspension, bodywork, and even catalytic converters can all be impacted by the condition of the roads.
Each local authority is responsible for the upkeep of its public roads, so naturally the state of England’s road network varies widely across the country. But which areas are home to the roads most in need of repairs?
To get a full picture, our car insurance team has analysed government data to reveal the state of road conditions in each local authority area in England, and how much improvement is needed versus the amount of repairs planned.
The study uses scores from the Road Indicator Report released by the government, which assigns colours to each road according to its condition:
- Green = No further investigation or work is needed to bring it up to standard
- Amber = May need work sometime soon
- Red = Further investigation is required to ascertain if work is needed immediately
Where are England’s road improvement hotspots?
Our research discovered that the area most in need of road maintenance work is the City of Bristol, with 78.5% of the road network currently in need of repairs - this means just one in five roads in Bristol (21%) are in good enough condition to not require any work. Despite this, current plans show just 4.4 kilometres of road (0.4% of the road network) will receive strengthening, resurfacing, or surface dressing treatment by April 2023.
The city’s B and C roads are most in need of work, with 85% of these marked as amber or red in the Road Indicator Report, compared with 72% of A roads and motorways.
Blackburn with Darwen’s roads are in the second worst condition in England, with 76% needing improvement and just 23.5% in good condition. Like Bristol, its B and C roads are in more need of repair than A roads and motorways.
Roadworks have been planned for 14.7 kilometres of the road network in Blackburn with Darwen by the end of the current financial year, which works out as 2.7% of its total road network length.
Roads under the responsibility of Cheshire West and Chester local authority follow in third, with just under three quarters (72%) of the roads in this area needing work and plans for just 7.5 kilometres of the network to be improved by April 2023 (which is equal to 0.3% of the road network).
Local authorities in the North West are responsible for five of the top ten road networks that are most in need of repairs, with 49% or more of the roads in Knowsley, Blackpool, and Stockport also needing improvement.
Blackpool ranks as the seventh worst overall for the condition of its roads, but it’s the local authority that’s making the biggest effort to rectify the issue. There are plans in place for improvements to 44.8 kilometres of road, which is equivalent to 9.8% of the total road network.
Which are the areas least in need of road repair work?
Roads in Redcar and Cleveland are the least in need of maintenance, with 90.5% of the roads in good condition.
Despite Redcar and Cleveland having the lowest proportion of roads needing improvement, there are still plans to improve 5.4 kilometres of road (0.8% of the total road network), this is more than what has been planned for Bristol even though its road conditions are considerably worse.
Stockton-on-Tees is home to the second best-maintained road network in England, with just 12% of its roads needing improvement and work planned for repairs on 3 kilometres of road.
Leeds follows closely behind with just 12.5% of its roads needing improvement. Work is planned for 8.4 kilometres of road by April 2023, which works out as 0.3% of the city’s network.
How to avoid damage caused as a result of potholes and poor-quality road surfaces
With less than half a percent (0.4%) of England’s roads planned to receive treatment for their poor condition, it’s crucial that drivers take all the precautions they can to avoid causing damage to their cars as a result of potholes and poor road surface quality.
Here are some safe driving tips to help you avoid having to pay out of pocket or claim for damages.
- Always stick to the speed limit. Not only is it dangerous to drive faster than the legal limit, you’ll also cause more damage to your car in the event you hit a pothole or drive over uneven surfaces.
- Be cautious of puddles. What might look like a small puddle of rainwater could actually have a huge pothole lying beneath the surface. Go through slowly or avoid altogether where possible.
- Keep both hands on the wheel at all times. The bump you feel when you hit a pothole could cause you to lose your grip on the steering wheel, and without proper control of the car you could wind up in an accident.
- Make sure your tyres are in good condition. High-quality tyres that are inflated to the correct level are the safest, and they’ll provide extra protection against pothole damage. Here are some tips for maintaining and taking care of your tyres.
Tips for claiming for damage caused by poor road conditions
If you are unlucky enough to have your car damaged by a pothole or unfavourable road conditions, you’ll be able to make a claim from the council or authority responsible for the road the pothole was on or from your car insurance provider if your policy is fully comprehensive.
If you want to claim from the council or road authority, here are some top tips:
- Collect supporting evidence. Make a note of the name of the road the pothole is on and where on the road it’s located in relation to landmarks, then safely take photos and measurements of its width and depth. Detail the date and time you hit the pothole as well as the exact damage it caused.
- Register a report with the relevant council or authority. You can file a report on the GOV.UK website - this is a responsible thing to do and it’ll also work in your favour if there’s a record of the report when your claim is reviewed.
- Get quotes to fix the damage. Speak to a few mechanics and collect quotes for how much the repairs will be. It’s worth asking the mechanic to write that the damage was caused by a pothole too. Keep these safe along with any receipts for repairs you pay for.
- Submit a claim. Find out which authority is responsible for the upkeep of the road the pothole is on and request a claim form from them. Complete the form in full and include your evidence, a detailed description of the incident, and your receipts for the repairs.
If you’re planning to claim on your car insurance for pot hole damage, remember that your no-claims discount may be affected, and in turn your premium may increase the following year. You’ll also have to pay an excess in contribution. Think about whether it would be cost effective to do this and consider whether it’s a better idea to claim compensation from the council or road authority instead.
The ranking of Local Authorities was determined by the percentage of roads needing improvement, by combining roads considered RED (further investigation is required to ascertain if work is needed immediately) and AMBER (may need work sometime soon) in the Road Condition Indicator Scores Reports from Gov.uk Road Condition Statistics (files RDC0321 and RDC0122).
Local authorities for which one or more data points are missing have been removed, as lack of comprehensive numbers results in a skewed ranking.