The JCB Pothole Pro: Tackling the UK's pothole problem


We’ve all heard the crunch when we drive over one, checked our car for signs of damage after arriving at our destination and wondered how to complain to the council about potholes. We know that potholes are bad for vehicles (and for our wallets).

But did you know that potholes are also a road safety risk? In fact, potholes are known to increase the risk of accidents and have even been said to pose a severe risk to life.

So, in this blog, we will be taking you through the threats potholes pose to road safety, explaining who is responsible for fixing potholes, how to complain to the council about potholes, and what equipment is needed for pothole repair work.

The impact of potholes on road safety

The AA dealt with 631,852 pothole related incidents in 2023, the highest for five years. 

Figures from the AA show pothole-related breakdowns hit a five-year high in July 2023, with 50,079 callouts to vehicles stranded with faults caused by potholes, an increase of nearly one-fifth from 41,790 in July 2022. In addition, in a recent survey, 96% of motorists stated their top transport issue was potholes.

However, potholes don't just pose a threat to motorists. They are also extremely dangerous for motorcyclists and cyclists who are at risk of losing control of their bike on potentially busy roads due to uneven surfaces. Paul Morgan CBE of the British Motorcyclists Federation said: "If you're only on two wheels and hit a pothole or imperfection, you're more likely to come off your bike, resulting in serious injury. Not just from hitting the pothole but also from hitting another vehicle."

Such risks also put pedestrians at risk of getting caught in the crossfire of out-of-control vehicles and bicycles. Yet, while the government committed increased funding for pothole repairs in late 2023, prior to this injection of cash, pothole repair funding has declined in recent years. This means councils now have the biggest ever pothole repair backlog.

Road safety legislation UK - can you sue the council for potholes?

According to UK road legislation, local authorities are required to have a working system that ensures regular inspection of roads and a swift response to any repair necessary. This means that road users who fall victim to injury or vehicle damage due to potholes are entitled to take out a claim against their local authority. 

As a result, according to a freedom of information request, over £32 million in compensation was paid out by local authorities, between 2017 and 2021, for personal injury claims due to potholes. Yet, preventative maintenance costs less than emergency repair work after a pothole has formed. Clearly then, there is a persuasive economic argument for adequate funding of road maintenance. 

The UK pothole funding situation

Indeed, at the end of 2023, the government indicated its recognition of the economic toll of not repairing potholes by committing £8bn to resurfacing roads across the country. While this is a move in the right direction, it has been argued that simply committing funds to the issue will not provide a long term solution to the problem.

Many MPs have called for the government to bring back ringfencing for pothole repairs as the government cannot guarantee that local authorities will spend the increased funding on pothole repairs. To further this claim, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for better roads issued a report in late 2023 calling for the Government to restore ringfencing and multi-year settlements for local road maintenance. However, this isn't the only further action that's been taken recently.

The Pothole Partnership's five point plan

The recently formed Pothole Partnership (AA, JCB, British Cycling, National Motorcyclists Council) represents the interests of drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists, pedestrians, and road repairers. To put pressure on the government to take action to clear the backlog of pothole repairs, the partnership unveiled a new five point plan, which states: 

  1. Local authorities are to limit the practice of temporary pothole repairs or patches and, where possible, every pothole or patch is to be repaired permanently.
  2. All local authorities / contractors need to adhere to UK-wide repair and inspection standards, and annually report on the repairs undertaken.
  3. The government needs to demonstrate greater urgency by accelerating and increasing spending of the £8.3bn pothole funding for England in the first three years, with total clarity on the distribution to local authorities.
  4. Central and local government are to guarantee ringfencing of ALL road maintenance funding to help deliver innovations that enable permanent repairs.
  5. Full transparency is needed from local authorities on their roads repair backlog, categorised by potholes, patching works and road resurfacing.


How can local councils tackle the pothole backlog?

This growing awareness of the danger of potholes and subsequent recent influx of funding from the government indicates that, over the coming months and years, local authorities are finally going to have the funding they need to tackle pothole repairs. However, with the considerable backlog of repairs that need to be made and requests to fix a pothole every 46 seconds, councils need a solution that is not just capable of handling the vast demand for repairs but is both fast and cost effective. 

Enter the JCB Pothole Pro

The Pothole Pro is a unique 3-in-1 solution specifically designed to sort out any pothole repair or large reinstatement operation in just 8 minutes. Because it comes with 3 dedicated attachments to cut, crop and clean, there's no need for additional specialist equipment or extra manpower, saving you both time and money. In fact, all you need to add is the tar.

As a result, the award-winning JCB Pothole Pro is the ideal solution for councils looking to permanently tackle the UK's pothole problem. Indeed, councils across the UK are turning to the JCB Pothole Pro to help them get through the current backlog of pothole repairs efficiently, economically, and permanently.

One of these is the Scottish Borders Council. The council's executive director for Roads Development and Maintenance, Councillor John Greenwell, said: "We are determined to tackle the problem of potholes, not just on our major roads, but also in our towns and villages. We know it is one of the biggest bugbears for our residents and this machine is really proving a game-changer in improving our road network."

Want to discover more about the JCB Pothole Pro? Click here.