More than half a million potholes were reported by members of the public to local authorities for repair last year, according to new research.
The RAC claims the “shocking” figures prove road conditions are worsening.
The data was obtained from Freedom of Information requests to the 212 councils responsible for roads in Great Britain, of which 161 authorities provided comparable figures.
The government said it was spending £6.5bn on road repairs from 2015-2021.
More than 512,000 potholes were reported to the 161 local authorities, up 44% on the 2015 figure of 356,000 potholes from 152 councils, the RAC said.
Extrapolating the numbers to take account of councils unable to provide data, the RAC believes the increase in reports over two years is 33%.
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It said damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs and distorted wheels were among the most common vehicle problems caused by potholes.
Earlier this year, drivers breaking down after hitting potholes reached a three-year high, according to the RAC.
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “Perhaps motorists are more inclined to report pothole defects than they were a few years ago, but we believe the sheer size of the increase is further proof the condition of our roads is worsening.”
He added the figures were “just the tip of the iceberg” as thousands of potholes go unreported every year.
One in five local roads in England and Wales is in a poor condition and the frequency of road resurfacing has declined, according to the Asphalt Industry Alliance.
Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s (LGA) transport spokesman said councils were fixing a pothole every 21 seconds but needed more funding to “embark on the widespread improvement of our roads that is desperately needed”.
He said the LGA was calling on the government to reinvest a portion of existing fuel duty into local road maintenance to fund a “£9.3bn road repair backlog”.
In October’s budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced an extra £420m of funding for councils to tackle potholes, on top of an existing fund of almost £300m.
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