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As the pothole pandemic grows each year, so does the damage to vehicles travelling through them. There are many sustainable surface treatments however, that stop them forming in the first place.

Pothole repairs are extremely expensive and disruptive to the UK taxpayer. A pothole is filled every 19 seconds, at a total annual cost of £107m in 2021/22 – the highest cost since 2015/16. (Source: AIA Alarm Survey 2022).

Repairing a significant number of potholes isn't a sign of success, but a sign of failure. The allocated pothole repair fund provided by central government has been and gone, and yet 1.7 million potholes are repaired each year. Why?

According to statistics from the Department for Transport the percentage of roads (A, B & C) receiving Surface Dressing treatment has declined 30% since 2016. This is mirrored by feedback from REA members who report a 36% decline in the application of surface dressing – and an increase in potholes.

Longer term, the DfT statistics show a steady decline of the use of surface treatments over not just years, but decades.

We would argue that this is aligned with the continued pivot towards shorter term funding decision making.

The decline in the use of surface treatments represents a failure to leverage the advantages that such a planned preventative approach provides.

Through the appropriate planned application of such treatments prior to the development of serious surface and structural defects (such as potholes), road conditions can be managed and maintained far more effectively as well as road lifespans extended – potentially indefinitely.

This provides significant cost benefits. Previous research from the AIA has shown that it is 20 times more expensive to carry out reactive maintenance (filling potholes) than planned, preventative maintenance.

Surface Dressing is the most cost-effective method, both financially and environmentally, to improve skid resistance and seal the road surface, which will stop the ingress of water and help prevent potholes appearing in the first place. According to the latest RSTA research, it is also one of the most carbon efficient treatments.

This presentation will focus on:

*Why we already have an answer to the problem with potholes

*Why local authorities should be incentivised to use surface treatments

*How modern techniques such as encapsulation are improving the laying of surface dressing, making it more efficient, effective and safer for the travelling public

*How surface dressing can be used alongside other surface treatments

*How surface dressing can be an important part of decarbonising the maintenance process for local roads

*How surface dressing and other surface treatments could save highway authorities money in the medium-long-term

*Why we have developed an industry campaign to promote it

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