The nation's van drivers have had their say on the sorry state of Britain's highways & byways and pothole repair tops the list of urgent transport priorities for the new Government in a unique manifesto for our roads.
According to the research, commissioned by Mercedes-Benz Vans UK and surveying 2,000 van drivers, a staggering two thirds say they have had to pay for repairs to their vehicle in the last 12 months alone as a result of pothole damage, costing them an average of £411 over the past year.
6/10 say pothole repair should be the re-appointed Transport Secretary's top priority for the UK;s road network, ahead of better parking provision in towns and cities (43%) and investment in bypasses to remove major bottle-necks (34%).
This comes despite the government's flagship Pothole Action Fund - announced just 14 months ago - which is allocating £250m to local councils over a five year period to help tackle the pothole menace.
But many experts believe it's not wnough - in fact, the Asphalt Industry Alliance estimates £12bn is needed to fix the nation's roads - and the experiences of van drivers suggest much more needs to be done.
After all, potholes are not only a cause for financial concern - they are also a health and safety risk for all road users, causing unnecessary accidents and injury.
Steve Bridge, Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz Vans UK Ltd, commented:
"With almost 4.2 million van drivers on our roads - around one in 10 of all vehicles on our highways- the voice of this important group of motorists needs to be heard. Our research clearly highlights that potholes and congestion actually cost these hard-working business men and women serious amounts of money, both in repair bills and time lost, which isn't acceptable.
"We are urging van drivers therefore, to report any potholes they come across to the local councill - while it may seem time-consuming, there are a number of ways to do this online and cia apps to help alert to and ultimately fix the issue.
"If hitting a pothole is unavoidable, drivers of Mercedes-Benz vans canhave their vehicles checked over by booking into one of our nationwide Dealer network workshops and having a free, no-obligations Visual Health Check by one of our Mercedes-Benz trained technicians, who will carry out a thorough visual inspection. This means that issues can be spotted before they become an issue, to reduce unexpected downtime and repair bills."
It's not surprising then that pothole repair tops the list of priorities the nation's van drivers want addressing urgently:
"Britain's economy is driven by van drivers - all those home deliveries are an important part of the issue with vans also taking the wide range of tradepeople we all rely on to work wherever they are needed, carrying their tools, equipment and supplies with them.
"Many vans are on the road all day, and the need to take them off for repairs is a substantial cost in more expensive deliveries and days of lost work for tradesmen. Smooth operation of the economy needs smooth roads. We are ready to help the drivers with training, but the economy needs roads fit for use by all - and that includes the vital part played by van drivers."
Peter Roger, Head of Driving Advice, IAM Institute of Advanced Motoring
The full list of road policy priorities the van driving community want to see happening are:
- Pothole repair - 60%
- Better parking provision in town - 43%
- Investment in bypasses to ease bottlenecks - 34%
- Widening motorways - 24%
- Increased traffic police presence - 19%
- Fewer speed cameras - 17%
- More speed cameras - 16%
- Better training for professional drivers - 14%
- Abandoning Smart Motorway schemes - 6%
- More tool roads - 4%
Congestion is also a critical issue for the new Government to adress
Improved education and driver training is on the manifesto too - more than third of van drivers, owners and operators say they are unsure how a Smart Motorway works, despite the rapid roll-out of this congestion-reduction initiative across the UK.
With more than 4m vans on Britain's roads, the view of drivers 'from behind the wheel' is of national economic relevance as online retailing and ever faster delivery slots become the norm and our everyday reliance on vans increases.