The RAC was called to a larger proportion of pothole-related breakdowns in the third quarter of 2021 than it had been in the same period in any year since 2006.

The organisation said it had attended 1,810 breakdowns relating to broken suspension springs, distorted wheels, and damaged shock absorbers, representing 1.2% of all its call-outs.

This is despite July to September normally being a quiet period for pothole-related incidents, while the rolling average for the last four quarters, at 1.5%, is also at the highest level seen since September 2018.

According to the RAC, this adds to the picture from its Report on Motoring 2021 survey, when 46% of drivers named the condition of local roads as one of their biggest concerns, up from 38% a year earlier, while 58% thought local roads had deteriorated, up from 58%.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “With government data showing weekday car traffic is still not quite back to pre-pandemic levels it’s very worrying that our patrols are still attending a higher proportion of pothole-related call-outs in relation to all the breakdowns they go out to.

“While it’s welcome that the sheer number of pothole breakdowns is not as high as we’ve seen in previous years, we see worrying signs in our data that implies little progress has been made in the last 12 months in improving road surfaces for drivers.

“Traditionally, the spring and summer months give authorities a chance to repair and improve roads, but unfortunately it seems many roads remain in a perilous state. We fear we’re only a bad winter away from seeing a plague of potholes which authorities will struggle to repair.

“When it comes to potholes, prevention is always better than cure. Relying on just patching potholes is a fruitless task which simply pours good money after bad as it only acts as a sticking plaster. This will anger drivers incredibly as they already feel not enough of their motoring taxes are invested in keeping roads up to a respectable standard.” 

With the condition of major roads less of a concern for drivers, the RAC has reiterated calls for a new way of funding local road repairs.

Lyes said: “We have long campaigned for national government to recognise the significance of local roads and ring-fence funds over a five-year period to enable councils to plan and deliver longer-term road maintenance. 

“If the coming winter proves to be colder than normal as some are predicting we could sadly see our roads crumbling yet further, costing drivers hundreds of thousands of pounds in repairs. 

“We’re sounding the alarm now so that this doesn’t happen, but we badly need the Transport Secretary and the Treasury to take a fresh look at how local roads are funded.”