Why Are UK Roads So Bad?

May 14, 2021

Potholes are one of the most frustrating things you come across as a driver in the UK, and they can be found pretty much everywhere you drive! Even in the most developed cities like London and Manchester, you will more than likely come across dangerous roads filled with potholes and debris. 

It has been found that potholes are one of the leading causes of UK road accidents, either from a driver hitting a pothole directly or from swerving around one and hitting another driver or object. So, why exactly are UK roads so bad? And why doesn’t anybody try to fix the problem? 

If you asked all of the drivers in the UK what they hated the most about driving in this country, they would more than likely complain about the number of potholes they come across each day. It was found in 2015, that the ‘Insurance Emporium company put in a freedom of information request to councils in England, Scotland, and Wales about the number of potholes recorded year by year. In 2015, the total figure was 946,125, rising to 1,088,965 in 2016 and falling back to 986,956 in 2017’. 

Why Are UK Roads So Bad?

The reason that UK roads are so bad isn’t to do with how they were created in the first place, but how they have been maintained over the years. The following points make inference as to how UK roads may have become damaged and uneven. 

Old Ground Infrastructure

The foundations of many UK roads have been there for an extraordinarily long time; in fact, most of the roads in the UK have already been in the same place for hundreds, if not thousands of years. This, therefore, suggests that the ground infrastructure is old, dated, and supposedly quite weak, meaning that wear and tear from the millions of UK drivers is detrimental to the road’s health. 

Heavier vehicles require roads to be made of thicker layers and more tightly packed compounds to increase the lifespan of the road before maintenance is required. However, vehicles such as HGV’s will commonly use B-roads with weaker infrastructures meaning that they are damaged easily and potholes are created as a result. 

Roman Roads

Thousands of years ago in 43 AD, the Romans invaded Britain and took over vast parts of the region. They controlled large swathes of land and built many towns and cities throughout the UK which still stand today; where remains can still be found. 

Chester, for example, is a city that still features some of the structures and roads that the Romans implemented whilst they were here. The Roman walls, roads, and coliseum are still visible and can be seen throughout the city centre. If you were wondering where we’re going with this, this could be one of the potential reasons as to why some UK roads are now in a fairly poor condition. The foundations of Roman roads are very much still apparent throughout the country, where the structures have been slowly breaking down for the past couple thousand years. You may argue that they have been built upon, however, the impact from what’s underneath the surface still causes problems to the road.

See the below image – ‘Roman Roads You Can Still Drive Along Today’

Roman UK Roads

Credit – The Sun

Densely Populated Country

The United Kingdom is an incredibly densely populated country. As of 2019, there are just over 66.65 million people living in the UK, a country three times smaller than the likes of Australia with a population of 25 million. Because of this, roads and country paths are subject to heavy wear and tear, making the deterioration of the road more apparent than in other westernised countries. 

Lack Of Funding

It’s a known fact that there is a lack of funding that goes towards road maintenance. Everybody in the UK is subject to paying road tax, however, drivers rarely see their money spent on the restoration of roads, especially in the countryside. Many countrysiders are left to their own devices where they will try and fix potholes themselves – using materials such as gravel to fix them. The only problem with the gravel they use is the fact that it breaks down very easily again and can actually be dangerous in wet conditions for drivers.