RAC patrols rescued some 3,426 motorists whose vehicles may have fallen victim to the UK’s pothole-ridden roads in the first three months of 2020, more than during the same period last year.

Data from the RAC shows this represented a massive 64% increase of 1,337 compared to October to December 2019 (2,089) and 150 more than the first quarter last year (3,276) – a rise of 4.5%.

The start of the coronavirus lockdown – which came into force on 23rd March – however meant there were nine days when far fewer cars were on the country’s roads, so the actual number of pothole-related breakdowns may have been higher under normal conditions.

In the first quarter of 2020 breakdowns resulting from damaged shock absorbers, broken springs and distorted wheels that are most likely to be attributable to poor road surfaces made up 1.6% of all the RAC’s call-outs for its individual members. This was considerably up on Q4 2019 when the figure stood at 0.9% and marginally up on the same period a year ago – 1.5%.

While winter was relatively mild overall, the UK suffered catastrophic flooding in some areas between November 2019 and February 2020, which is bound to have taken its toll on overall road surface quality.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “Many parts of the country suffered wet weather conditions throughout February, though the winter overall was generally mild. While the wet conditions mercifully gave way to much drier weather as we headed into March, it’s still likely that the storms and floods were major factors in why the number of pothole-related breakdowns was higher than the same period last year.

“While millions of cars are mostly confined to streets and driveways during the coronavirus lockdown, people are more reliant than ever on their vehicles to buy food and important household items. 

“It will also be interesting to see if lower traffic volumes during the UK’s lockdown will help prevent further deterioration of roads as fewer wheels going over weaknesses in the asphalt should contribute to less surface wear.”

To report a pothole, or to find out if you suffer from damage from one and wonder if you can claim for compensation, visit the RAC’s pothole online guide. The RAC has also published a guide on looking after cars during the pandemic.