Some councils are taking days to fill in dangerous potholes, while others respond within minutes. Based on data received from 190 of the 207 local highway authorities in Britain, the RAC Foundation found that the quickest-acting councils aim to act "immediately" to repair potholes that pose the greatest risk to the state of the road and the safety of drivers and riders.
The most common response time to the most urgent problems is two hours, but some councils take three or more days to arrange road repairs. To some extent, response times depend on how many miles of road a council has to manage.
The analysis also shows that local authorities are increasingly adopting a 'risk-based' approach to determine the speed at which road defects are fixed, following a recommendation by the UK Roads Liaison Group in October 2016. As well as the width and depth of the pothole, this takes into account factors such as the type of road it is on, the integrity of the road structure, the volume of traffic the road carries and the mix of road users.
Three quarters (75%) of the local highway authorities that responded said they had already moved to a risk-based approach by autumn 2018 and another 8% were about to move to the new system or were reviewing their existing practices.
Alongside this approach, however, 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.
The latest guidance from the UK Roads Liaison Group recommends that primary, secondary and main distributor roads are inspected by local highway authorities once a month; link roads once a quarter; and local roads once a year.
These inspections should identify potholes and other defects including damaged or missing manhole covers and drain grates, and damage to the edge of the carriageway.