Local roads “a poor relation within transport”, admits transport minister

Jesse Norman MP says "a new round of capital investment" is required for local roads

Local roads are “not in a great state”, having been treated as “something of a poor relation within transport”, a senior politician has admitted.

Roads Minister Jesse Norman told the Transport Select Committee that “a new round of capital investment” was needed in the local road network, with small, unclassified roads the most neglected. “That has an impact on safety, it has an impact on productivity”, he said.

• A fifth of drivers say speed bumps have damaged their cars

Norman added that while many A, B and C roads had benefited from improvements in recent years, the move towards autonomous cars would only bring the state of unclassified roads into sharper focus, as self-driving cars will require “better-marked, better-lined road.”

State of local roads top list of motorists’ concerns

Previous research revealed British motorists are more worried about the perilous state of local roads than any other single issue.

The RAC’s annual Report On Motoring surveyed almost 2,000 drivers, looking into subjects such as congestion, traffic laws and other drivers’ behaviour. But it was the condition of local roads that was felt to be the most pressing issue, with 42 per cent putting it at the top of their list of concerns – up from 33 per cent in 2017. This year, 78 per cent said the UK’s roads are generally in poor condition. 

Looking more deeply into which aspect of road condition caused these judgements, some 98 per cent of respondents said the quality of the surface of local roads is the biggest condition-related concern, with a further 82 per cent saying the same about motorways. Drilling down further still reveals litter as the next biggest worry surrounding road condition.

Previous pothole-related research has shown one in eight local roads face closure due to their condition, with local councils paying out £43 million in compensation to drivers after pothole strikes, and drivers themselves shelling out £1 million a month to repair cars damaged by pockmarked roads.

After road condition worries, drivers using a handheld phone behind the wheel was the second largest concern for motorists, with 38 per cent citing this issue. Yet 40 per cent put phone use at the top of their list of concerns last year, echoing figures that show offending rates are in decline. This in itself follows a doubling of the penalty for using a phone when driving, which now stands at six points and a £200 fine.

The cost of fuel comes next on drivers’ list of woes – hardly surprising given the cost of a tank of petrol has gone up £7 over the last year. Aggressive drivers follows as the fourth biggest concern, while drink and drug drivers comes fifth.

Commenting on the survey, Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “At a time when car usage is on the rise, motorists believe there has been a clear deterioration in the condition of the UK’s roads. This is an issue that urgently needs to be addressed.” Meanwhile, Theo De Pencier, from Transport Focus, said it was time local and central government “got to grips” the state of the UK’s roads.

Are your local roads in a state of disrepair? Let us know in the comments below...

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