Potholes: The bottomless money pit for delivery drivers
A recent survey rated some UK roads as “terrible” sparking fears that road infrastructure and potholes would worsen in the coming years.
The rating follows a recent UK Automobile Association (AA) polling survey released in the wake of National Pothole Day (15 January).
The survey revealed the dire state of some roads in Britain, which has long been recognised for its exceptional road network. The polling found that more than 50% of respondents in Scotland, the North-west and South-East found local roads to be Terrible.
In a statement, the AA said that since November – particularly on rainy days – they had seen an average increase of 225 daily breakdowns. This was primarily due to drivers striking waterlogged potholes, resulting in punctures, wheel damage and even suspension faults.
Leading UK courier company Pegasus Couriers, MD Martin Smith, called potholes a bottomless money pit that caused logistical nightmares for delivery companies
“A damaged van results in a delivery van being removed from operations. This, in turn, means fewer or delayed deliveries, which impacts the operational side of the business.
In addition to the obvious financial implications caused by the damage, alternative arrangements must be made when a van is out of circulation. This leads to our fleet and depot teams being pulled away from their core role in an attempt to try to rearrange deliveries.
One also needs to remember that there is a parts scarcity with some vehicles, which adds to delivery van repair delays.”
Smith added the knock-on effect meant traffic-related incidents such as traffic jams. “If a pothole leads to an accident, it means traffic delays which impact our parcel delivery and overall customer satisfaction and performance. The fact is, potholes greatly impact us, our clients and our delivery drivers.”
Pegasus Couriers contracts and owns about 600 vans while delivering parcels across Scotland, Ireland and the North of England. Some clients include global corporates such as UPS and Yodel.
To lessen the financial implications, Pegasus Couriers operations manager Phil West said consultations with insurance and recovery providers were ongoing. “It is familiar enough for us to have endless meetings with our insurers to discuss the procedure changes related to issues like potholes. I have noticed an increase in mostly sump-related damage primarily caused by pothole incidents. We constantly talk to our delivery drivers and contractors about potholes and the potential damage they could cause.”
AA roads policy head Jack Cousens called on the government to act to save rising costs met by the road freight and transport sector. “Years of underinvestment in the nation’s roads means we are seeing more potholes develop than ever before. It’s not just road surfaces that need upgrading. Worn road markings, damaged signs, streetlights no longer working, and overgrown hedgerow covering signs are all too common on UK roads.
“Sadly, this all points towards a lack of funding or ring-fencing by both central and local government. Safe and maintained streets are vital for everyone regardless of how they use the roads, and we desperately need to see a massive cash injection to upgrade local roads. Until that happens, UK roads will continue to crumble and crack into catastrophe.”
The pothole saga comes in the wake of a nationwide van shortage that is hampering the industry’s growth and pushing up delivery van rental costs.
Some commercial rental companies had increased lease prices by 30% to 40% per year last year.
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