New data has been revealed showing the fastest and slowest-acting councils in Britain when it comes to filling potholes but how quickly does Calderdale Council fill its dangerous potholes?
Analysis by the RAC Foundation shows that local highway authorities across the country are increasingly adopting the ‘risk-based’ approach to fixing road defects.
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This means, for example, that not only will the size – width and depth – of a pothole be taken into account but also the type of road it is on, the volume of traffic that road carries and the mix of road users.
Intervention times will also depend on the physical size of the local authority area and also the length and makeup of the road network, with urban authorities tending to have smaller and more geographically confined networks than their rural counterparts.
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Calderdale Council aims to repair those potholes that pose the greatest risk to the state of the road and the safety of drivers and riders in two hours.
Based on data received from 190 of the 207 local highway authorities in Britain, 75 per cent (142) had already moved to a risk-based approach by Autumn 2018, by when a further 15 (eight per cent) said they were about to move to the new system or were reviewing their existing practices.
Although adopting a risk-based approach is becoming increasingly common, almost all authorities still set minimum investigation levels – based on depth and width measurements – below which they won’t assess potholes, nor assign response times based on the dangers they pose.
These investigation levels vary considerably.
While 37 local highway authorities said they would investigate further when a pothole was between 20-30mm deep, 26 others said the depth had to be at least 50mm or more.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, 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.
“It is understandable that large rural authorities set themselves longer response times, simply as a result of having to travel further to effect repairs, but motorists might still be surprised to see such a wide variation across the country.
“Those particularly vulnerable to potholes – cyclists and motorcyclists – might ask whether the speed of pothole investigation should be based solely on the risk to users.”
The latest guidance from the UK Roads Liaison Group – a collaboration of both national and local government – recommends that primary, secondary and main distributor roads are inspected by LHAs once a month; link roads once a quarter; and local roads once a year. Inspections aim to identify all road defects, not just potholes but also damaged or missing manhole covers and drain grates, and damage to the edge of the carriageway.