POTHOLES have become the number one concern for Britain's motorists, overtaking texting and drink driving as a worsening problem according to the findings of a new report from the UK's largest road safety charity.
IAM RoadSmart's annual Safety Culture Report, which tracks drivers' changing attitudes to key road safety issues over time, discovered that three in four motorists (75 per cent) now perceive potholes to be a bigger issue for road users than they were three years ago.
This was followed by driver distraction (68 per cent) - such as texting or talking on a mobile phone - and traffic congestion (65 per cent).
Further findings from the report, now in its sixth year and which involves surveying more than 2,000 motorists, also discovered that around nine in ten (89 per cent) drivers have been affected by potholes over the last year.
Meanwhile, just over one in three (31 per cent) drivers had changed their route to avoid a pothole with, more worryingly, more than half (54 per cent) having had to steer away or brake hard to avoid impact and damage.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: "The pothole situation on UK roads has now become much more than just irritating, it's a significant threat to personal safety.
"We simply can't have vehicles swerving into oncoming traffic or slamming on their brakes without warning to avoid them. Deteriorating roads also put pedestrians and cyclists at greater risk.
"It is clearly a sign of the times when motorists perceive potholes to be a bigger growing concern to them than drink driving and texting. And while the statistics show that the devastating impacts of using a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or using a mobile phone when driving still remain, it does highlight that it is time for government to take potholes seriously and fix the UK's road network."
Regionally, eight in ten (81 per cent) motorists in the South East considered potholes to be a bigger road safety issue than three years ago, compared with around six in ten in London (61 per cent) and the North East (64 per cent).
It is currently estimated that there are some 42,675 miles of UK roads classed as being in POOR structural condition, costing an estimated £11.14 billion to bring them up to a level which they could be maintained cost effectively going forward, according to Asphalt Industry Alliance*.
However, IAM RoadSmart's research found of those motorists who had experienced a pothole only around one in ten (12 per cent) had enough damage to their car caused by the pothole to require a repair and only around one in six (16 per cent) had reported a pothole to the authorities.
Less than one in ten (seven per cent) made a claim for the damage.