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Local authorities adopting 'risk-based' approach to repair road defects
Local authorities adopting 'risk-based' approach to repair road defects

Local authorities adopting ‘risk-based’ approach to repair road defects

The pothole problem in the UK means the vast majority of local authorities are adopting a ‘risk-based’ approach to fixing road defects, according to analysis by the RAC Foundation.

In the past year, the problems associated with road deterioration have magnified because of the poor weather conditions that have increased the incidences of road defects.

The government has committed millions of extra money, including £420 million for local authorities to fix potholes.

But with the fall in maintenance spending on roads over the decade, it means local authorities have had to take a different approach.

By assessing risks, it means councils take into account the size, width and depth of a pothole, as well as the type of road it is on, the volume of traffic on that road and the mix of road users, when prioritising the road defects to fix first.

By autumn 2018, the RAC Foundation’s data revealed that 142 local authorities had already moved to a risk-based approach; a further 15 said they were either moving their approach to a ‘risk-based’ one, or renewing existing practices.

It is becoming increasingly common, but nearly all councils still look at minimum investigation levels that are based on depth and width measurements. Anything that falls below these won’t be assigned a response time, or assessed for the threat they pose.

Steve Gooding, Director of the RAC Foundation, is pleased that local authorities are changing their approach, because it ensures the most dangerous potholes are repaired, despite funding shortages that exist.

He said: “It is good to see that the vast majority of local highway authorities are adopting the best practice ‘risk-based’ approach recommended by the UK Roads Liaison Group, which is putting the risk to road users front and centre alongside the potential for a defect to develop into a bigger structural problem.

“The total number of potholes being filled in might still be limited by a shortage of funding, but this approach at least means those that are most dangerous are fixed first.”

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