/ Motoring

Is a pothole solution around the corner?

Self-driving cars without a human behind the wheel will be allowed on UK roads from 2021, but are they a solution to our pothole problem?

Despite the 2017 Autumn Budget’s self-driving car announcement, there will be a few bumps in the road yet for this amibtious projection for the UK’s car industry.

Recent reports suggest that our entire road network may need to be upgraded to make way for advancements in driverless vehicles.

Even if the driverless cars could detect potholes using GPS, inertia measurement, radar or cameras – which may not be possible in all weather conditions – moving to avoiding them rather than slowing down could be treacherous.

Road maintenance funding

The Asphalt Industry Alliance (AIA) has estimated road maintenance funding must rise by £1.5 billion per year to get the UK’s highways up to a maintainable standard. And even then, clearing the backlog would take a decade.

Read our guide on how to report a pothole and make a claim

The government has announced a £22.9 million investment in council-led research and trials of new technologies to modernise the road network and find new ways of preventing potholes

Suggestions for how the pothole problem could be fixed range from new roads built using recycled plastic to a road heating system to prevent surfaces freezing.

Autumn Budget 2018: £28.8bn injection into UK roads

But what if driverless cars could help to fix our pothole-riddled roads and pave the way to their future?

Can lasers fix potholes?!

Put pizzas on the back-burnerdriverless cars with lasers could fight the battle against potholes, according to a recent news story in the Oxford Mail.

One of the projects Oxford county council’s head of innovation Llewelyn Morgan and the wider council are working on involves how the pulsed laser light and a sensor fitted in experimental driverless cars could quickly and accurately identify where tarmac is breaking up.

The idea is that this information could help highway maintenance teams to fix potholes and plan resurfacing work before further deterioration – a ‘prevention before cure’ approach.

What do you think of driverless cars as a solution to the UK’s pothole problem? What are your ideas for how councils can use new technology to fix potholes and future-proof Britain’s roads?

Comments

The work still has to be done, be it resurfacing or filling in. Finding a potential pothole doesn’t cure it. If lasers can find potential problems they can be used now on any vehicle. Presumably, we have not developed new road surface technology, because what we have is the most effective process. Any road surface has to be skid-proof, weatherproof and durable. It would, however, be a fabulous way of re-cycling plastics if it could be made to work.

Is it really a good idea to use plastics for road surfacing?

Would traffic wear and tear produce polluting microplastics? There are few places that don’t have roads and cars so the potential for an awful lot of pollution in soil, aquafers, rivers and sea.

That’s the problem, Alfa. It was recognised years ago but I’m not aware that the risks have been quantified.

Recycled plastics are great materials for replacing timber and board used in wet conditions and providing that these are subsequently recycled, there is little environmental risk. I suspect that using plastic to build or repair roads could be creating problems for future generations.

The technology for driverless cars is at least 20 years away.. they are ok on American wide roads and city’s block planning system… but on an English country road, in the wet? Potholes no lane markings, now real edge to the road.. and when there is a crash due to the tech not working, how culpable with Ford et all be…. with no driver to blame

Most of the potholes I encounter are on narrower roads where vehicles have veered off the tarmac when meeting vehicles coming in the opposite direction. This gradually nibbles away at the edge of the tarmac. It does not happen when there is a concrete edge to support the tarmac. I know one road where annual repairs are needed to deal with potholes at the side of the road and surely it would be better to tackle the cause of the problem.

On our roads potholes appear in the running surface. Last week on my way out at night I passed 6 vehicles on the other side of the road with hazard lights on, and then a stationary white van accompanied by two men. It turned out a large pothole has appearred and these cars had all suffered front suspension damage and/or tyre damage.

As vynor says, if laser technology can identify weak spots that will turn into potholes we should use it on as many vehicles as possible to warn the council. But…….. it is of little use if councils do not have the money to repair their roads.

We need pothole-free roads, for money reasons – see 6 cars above – and for safety reasons. Roads benefit almost all the population and we are entitled to safe surfaces. We should tackle our roads before wasting money on vanity projects like HS2. £60bn and likely to rise, and the roads need £1.5bn a year to begin to get than back in shape? Who are the most important customers here – those many who use the roads or the relatively few who will use HS2?

malcolm r says: 22 February 2019
We should tackle our roads before wasting money on vanity projects like HS2. £60bn and likely to rise

I suspect the case for HS2 was badly put. The costs associated with it are not exclusively or even mainly high speed related. Most of the costs lie in the land acquisition, infrastructure creation and stations / station enlargements. In effect, the government (in the form of Lord Adonis) saw just how crucial it was going to be to provide extra rail services which would be comparatively pollution-free in the 2020s.

We need the extra track and the extra trains and, if we’re going to have to invest huge amounts in extra track and the associated land acquisition costs, anyway, then it makes sense to create a high speed service that will be – to some extent – future-proofed.

HS2 is about as far from a ‘vanity project’ as you can get. It’s about providing a relatively pollution-free mode of travel that will, to an extent, make short-hop airline services redundant and create a better environment for us all, plus it will – if it works as hoped – facilitate regional commuting which should have the knock-on effect of levelling out house prices and decentralising the power and operation of national government.

Derek B says:
23 February 2019

If driverless cars use the same criteria to tell them WHERE to drive along any given road, then the roads will wear out quicker where all the weight is concentrated, and more frequently. You can see similar at traffic lights and parking spaces.

It could look like inverted railway lines eventually, and even show a problem to non-driverless cars as they change lanes.

Unlike diesel and more recently electric vehicles and how they can be charged, someone at the Centre needs to look at every angle before saying ‘look what we have shown we can do, everyone MUST do this!’

There are only 2 stations on HS2 phase 1 – London and Birmingham. Anyone else from north of London has to travel in to come out. The line is for passengers only – no provision for freight. Out of hours work is partly for maintenance. So why should I think transporting a relatively well off section of people from London to Birmingham on what is likely to be a subsidised railway is a good use of scarce money. And why should I encourage commuting from Birmingham to London? I’d rather see jobs relocated to minimise commuting, particularly over long distances.

We need a decently maintained road network for the majority of the population. A new railway from London to Birmingham is hardly “long distance”. Saving 24 minutes, given the time people need to reach the line in the first place, is hardly a big deal A conventional higher speed line ought to make the trip in not much longer than HS2, and be more flexible in its route to avoid unnecessary demolition and wrecking habitats and ancient woodland. But, in these increasingly connected days, why do we really need to transport so many people between these towns?

But the point was, when we can’t even fund the maintenance of a decent roads network for the majority we should think very much more sensibly about spending money on the few.

Just my view.

Windswept says:
23 February 2019

Driver-less cars will not solve this or many of the other ‘problems’ they are touted as fixing.
The roads need to be in far better condition – period. All drivers deserve this, to keep the country and industry/ commerce moving along.
The whole driver-less car movement is going to reduce speeds on the roads to a crawl.
They will brake on seeing a pothole, then carefully drive around it before resuming normal speeds. In fact, I doubt they will be able to spot a pothole (see the reasons above) at any more than a crawl.
So the average road user will be hampered once again, leading to more inefficiency and greater waste of time, effort and production.
But it is ‘progress’!

malcolm r said: on 23 February 2019

There are only 2 stations on HS2 phase 1 – London and Birmingham.

At the moment. But we cannot know what will be built in the future according to demand.

Anyone else from north of London has to travel in to come out.

But they already have to do that with airports, sea ports, all modes of transport that cover significant differences. An London is better provided with local transport links to its centre than many other places.

The line is for passengers only – no provision for freight.

I think you’ll find that freight trains can, in fact, use the same tracks. But its also possible that if the demand, density and frequency of passengers means the HS sections are running trains every three minutes, then freight can transfer to the less used line.

why should I think transporting a relatively well off section of people from London to Birmingham on what is likely to be a subsidised railway is a good use of scarce money.

Reasons:

1. The demand clearly exists.
2. The money is not scarce. It has been allocated.
3. The project will assist in redressing the imbalance between the regions and the capital.
4. Your focus is wrong: think of it merely as an extra line – which is sorely needed.
5. I’m unsure where you get the idea that it will be “a relatively well off section of people” using it. Costs very little to use the Eurostar to get to Paris, Amsterdam and so on, and they don’t even have any comparable competition. In fact, I;m fairly sure it costs less per mile on the Eurostar than it does on any other mode of transport, other than possibly a private car city centre to city centre.

And why should I encourage commuting from Birmingham to London?

Are you? Your own intentions aside, we are where we are. London is – rightly or wrongly – one of the great financial centres on the planet, and wishing it weren’t so is futile- at least in the foreseeable future.

People living in the North – or anywhere North of Watford. in the eyes of many – have long felt that the wealth, the decision-making, the power bases are all centred in and around London, as the BBC’s weather forecast alone tends to prove. Rightly or wrongly, as long as Parliament sits where it does, the North will continue – with some justification – to feel marginalised by comparison with the wealthy South East. If we’re talking a “relatively well off section of people” you need look no further. If we are, as a country, to be united and a force in the world it’s critical that movement around the country remains as swift, efficient and trouble-free as possible. The airports remain as dreadful as ever, the roads, as we’re being told, are in a horrendous state of repair and there’s far too little capacity on the trains.

The case for HS2 is therefore overwhelming and urgent. The government – albeit rarely – is in this case thinking of the future.

We all have opinions on this, and telling a commenter they are “wrong” is inappropriate. However, I have not said we do not need another line – that may be so but I’d prefer it to release capacity for freight to get traffic off the roads(which requires extensive terminal infrastructure and then good road links for which there is no provision). The thought that HS2 replaces air travel from London to Birmingham – really?

A conventional line would probably take about 15 minutes longer than a high speed line, but adding an intermediate stop or two would greatly benefit closer commuters and travellers from outside London. On an overall journey time for most of up to 2 3/4 hrs each way (including local journey times) I do not see an extra 15 minutes as of any real consequence.

However, roads for most are the primary means of transport, both long distance and commuting. They should have the scarce money “allocated” to bring them up to an acceptable standard by keeping them properly surfaced and free from potholes.

Incidentally, the money for HS2 has not been allocated as no one, apparently, yet knows how much it will cost.

I did not say you were wrong; merely that your focus was. I believe you see the high speed factor as the most crucial whereas I suspect simply expanding the railways’ capacity is the ture intention.

But yes; we have relatives that frequently have to fly from B’ham to London – and they loathe it. Apparently the ‘plane is always full so increasing the rail capacity would cut airborne pollution at a stroke.

The entire HS network is going to be essential for the UK’s future. HS1 is simply the first step of what will be a mammoth project.

malcolm r says: Today 09:54
Incidentally, the money for HS2 has not been allocated as no one, apparently, yet knows how much it will cost.

The government has allocated money to HS2, as stated in the Lords’ document and the paragraph starting “The total funding allocated for the construction of HS2 and purchase of rolling stock of £50.1 billion includes £16.15 billion contingency”,

Would you like to know more?

This Convo is about potholes. HS2 only came into it as an example of where money is being spent, some of which might be better used getting our potholes repaired. It might be better to move an HS2 Convo, if one is needed, elsewhere.

But as I have demonstrated that money has already been allocated. The money to repair the roads, however, exists; it’s simply that the government do not consider it worthwhile spending that money on the roads. The root of the issue lies in that attitude.

I am struggling to see a link between potholes and driverless cars. “Our entire road network may need to be upgraded to make way for advancements in driverless vehicles” !! Actually, our entire road network need to be upgraded for the 37.5 million “conventional” vehicles currently on our roads. Bums to driverless vehicles 🙁 .

I’m surmising that the age of the driverless taxi is approaching far more quickly than some might like to think, and – as you showed in your posts about cars falling into a newly-opened pothole – it seems as though all vehicles will still be prone to mishaps, whether driverless or not.

Interestingly, some roads might require sensors, like the cats’ eyes on motorways, to be embedded before they’re ready for the driverless taxi – or driverless anything, really. But I question the premise of Melissa’s heading when she writes “moving to avoiding them (potholes) rather than slowing down could be treacherous.”. In programming terms that’s not insuperably difficult to circumvent.

Deciding whether to avoid or slow down may not be difficult to program, but it was reported a while ago that Ford has taken the strategic decision that, in a fifty-fifty crisis, the safety of the ‘driver’ in one of its driverless cars would take precedence over the safety of others in the vicinity. In other words it would be preferable to kill the pedestrian rather than the occupant (my words, not theirs – funny that). That’s not difficult to program either.
That moral dilemma alone ought to be more than enough to dampen down the fervid enthusiasm of driverless proponents – but probably not because it’s the latest whizzy thing. There was even a comment that this kind of approach was necessary otherwise mischevious people might stand in the way of driverless cars so that they would have to stop, and we can’t have that can we? Instead driverless cars would gently ‘nudge’ offending people out of the way until the cars could continue their unimpeded progress. These dangerous thought-processes going on right now are indeed food for thought.
This is a festival of unintended consequences.

I think what Ford meant is that in a conflict the system would always acquiesce to another vehicle even if that vehicle was in the wrong. This behaviour has already been noted in autonomous/semi-autonomous cars. It means of course that impatient drivers will always be able to get autonomous cars to stop and let them in.

As Melissa’s introduction points out we can all report a problem to the council but perhaps a more effective solution would be to make use of the fact that most people carry a mobile phone capable of providing the location by GPS.

Using a phone location means stopping at the site, doesn’t it? Often not possible. Our council, presumably like others, uses an interactive map where you can mark the pothole position, if you are sufficiently public spirited.

The street lighting system used “scouts” – local people paid a small amount to look at those in their area and report any that were malfunctioning. This is likely to have been superseded in many places by reporting electronics within the light. However, maybe the system could be used in residential areas to report potholes before they have chance to enlarge and cause too much damage?

Where it is possible to stop then in my view it makes sense to report the problem there and then.

It seems that some councils do much better than others in dealing with reported potholes: https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/cars/article-5324753/The-councils-unfilled-potholes-revealed.html

I am not sure that a “solution” is the right remedy for a pothole in the road! What is required is something thicker that solidifies quickly but will adhere to the sides of the hole and not pop out under the next passing lorry wheels.

I believe that poor preparation of the cavity is the cause of so many pothole repair failures.

Given the small sum required in relation to other government expenditures, I would say that £2-3 billion a year over five years would be money well spent – so long as the preparation was done properly.

To put this in context, the railways in England & Wales will get nearly £48 billion over the next five-year control period to spend on infrastructure operations, maintenance and renewals work [enhancements are funded separately as are expenditure in Scotland and Northern Ireland].

JOHN WASHBROOK says:
23 February 2019

Where I live one of the obvious causes of potholes is poor workmanship and poor supervision. Eg a lorry turns up with 4 workmen. Two get out and shovel some tarmac into the centre of the cluster of potholes, 5 mins later they are off. The edges of the repair are not sealed and come the next frost start cracking up, along with a worsening of the remaining potholes. Reporting this to the county council does not get even an acknowledgement.

Utility companies sometimes seal the edges but more often do not. In the past it was part of the job

john owen-jones says:
23 February 2019

You dont need a magic system with lasers, When I was in charge of over 1000miles of roads I had the use of a marvelous and effective machine called a Road Foremen together a repair system called road gangs. It worked, all that is different is the government is determind to achieve road maintenance without spending any money. The roads in my county and no doubt many other are more third world rather than leading econony.

I wonder how clever driverless cars are. Drivers usually manage to avoid potholes, which helps to prevent the pothole becoming bigger. I wonder if the proposed driverless cars can do this. If they just stay on course the car may be damaged and the potholes will become bigger sooner.

Ken Doggrell says:
23 February 2019

Driverless car will just stop if it sees a hazard that it can’t recognise. Water filled pothole, dead dog, or squirrel. Debris, typically from builders trucks. Timber, paint pots, bricks, gravel etc. Plastic bags, glass, tree branches. Cattle grids. High humps not clearly identified. The list goes on.
We have all navigated round, through or over these obstacles.
Flying debri resulting in a cracked or broken windscreen – not relevant. A smashed sensor! What happens? Emergency brake.
I don’t believe that driverless cars will be able to identify the carriage way if there is no kerb or centre line. They may cope but only at a crawl.

I expect we will see driverless cars on our roads but for the present, would it not be better to focus on getting rid of potholes and improving the standard of our roads?

I wonder if it would spot a water filled pothole, especially in the dark if it’s raining. Such things are difficult enough for a human driver.

How good will the memory of an autonomous car be? I know it advance where all the worst potholes are on my route to work and can slow down or position the car before they come into view. The same applies to that one nasty corner with the leaky water main which always has a sheet of ice over it whenever the temperature drops.

It does not bear thinking about, Phil. I don’t want to stand in the way of progress but I’m not too happy at the thought of driverless cars on the roads in 2021.

Nor me. They really need to get the Sat-Nav sorted as well. Mine thinks I live on the opposite side of the road.

Allan says:
23 February 2019

I notice while cycling the much of road wear is due to wheel slip on hills, corners an junctions often due to drivers accelerating overly hard for the conditions. The problem has increased as vehicles are geared for impressive acceleration instead of economy. Driverless cars will (I hope) drive more moderately thus reducing much road wear. But it may never happen; I would never buy a car that would choose to sacrifice me and my family to avoid a pedestrian and, as a sometimes ‘vulnerable’ road user, I would never share a road with a computer that would sacrifice me for the safety of the driver.

Windswept says:
23 February 2019

I too cycle and have noticed the same situations.
However, driver-less cars will not solve this or many of the other ‘problems’ they are touted as fixing.
The roads need to be in far better condition – period. All drivers deserve this, to keep the country and industry/ commerce moving along.
The whole driver-less car movement is going to reduce speeds on the roads to a crawl.
They will brake on seeing a pothole, then carefully drive around it before resuming normal speeds. In fact, I doubt they will be able to spot a pothole 9see the reasons above) at any more than a crawl.
So the average road user will be hampered once again, leading to more inefficiency and greater waste of time, effort and production.
But it is ‘progress’!

Driverless cars will have people on board. I cannot believe they will just sit there, looking forward, and allow the vehicle to career on regardless of obstacles or cavities at a much greater distance than the vehicle’s sensors will react. There would therefore be many human interventions.

I think there is a long way to go before the intelligence of driverless vehicles gives people the confidence to just sit there and be conveyed. What works on a test track will probably not be good enough for real on-road driving.

When all vehicles within a rolling zone are in some form of communication with each other on a protected highway, such as a motorway, a reasonable degree of safety might be possible but in urban locations with multiple conflicting movements and the existence of numerous side entries and roundabouts I foresee many people being too nervous to travel.

It might be better to invest in more trams and railways as a much safer way to get people from A to B safely with the least potential for things to wrong.

Philip Trow says:
24 February 2019

As a member of a Professional Engineering Institution, I recently attended a lecture about ‘autonomous cars’ and learnt that for safe ‘connectivity’ between cars we need 5 g over the whole of the country. Further, developments by the various manufacturers have to be brought together so that there is interaction between the makes. The thinking was that it could take 10 years to make driverless cars safe over the whole country. Probably ‘driverless’ car would be possible over restricted areas by 2021, but not over the whole country, particularly as we do not even have 4g yet.

the dam potholes need to be fixed period.

John Gillies says:
25 February 2019

Driverless vehicles are coming, and the UK can’t refuse to advance with the rest of the world. Of course there are issues that have not yet been solved, but they will be. Some people seem outraged by the notion that driverless cars will have to be programmed to make choices between saving passengers and saving pedestrians. Human drivers are already making this choice. (Does anyone believe they sacrifice themselves and their passengers for a pedestrian?) It is not a new dilemma just because we have to programme a machine. In any case, the driverless vehicle has a much better chance of avoiding ANY loss of life. It won’t be “kill the pedestrian,” but “try to save all lives if possible, but where there is a conflict, save the greater number,” or something similar. No different from what we would hope a human driver would try to do!

DerekP says:
26 February 2019

Actually, I’m sure the UK could choose not to adopt driverless cars.

For example, UK laws prohibits the use of Segways as personal transport, even though most other countries allow this.

I wonder about the legal position if you are injured or your car is damaged by a driverless car. Maybe we will have nuisance calls offering help us claim compensation.

DerekP says:
26 February 2019

But those calls will, of course, only be made by robots in staffless call centres 😉

We’re doomed.

Things are clearly different in urban areas, but in the countryside we have herds of cows and flocks of sheep being moved from one field to another along the roads, horses and walkers strolling along, ducks, geese and other creatures in the road, deer crossing the road, and numerous other surprising occurrences. Most rural roads do not have footways. Will the driverless cars slow down to an appropriate speed and proceed with caution – or just stop? How will they interpret the hand-signals given by the cowhands, shepherds or riders? Will they have the intelligence to mount the bank or reverse into a gateway to allow the other legitimate road users to pass? How will they cope with level crossings and user-worked railway crossings? In what circumstances will they sound the horn or flash the lights?

There will have to be some means of human over-ride, so people will decide when to go driverless and when to resume control; there will therefore have to be a licensed driver on board every vehicle. With all the other motoring problems to be solved, including improving the standard and safety of the actual highways, I wonder if this is where our energies and financial resources should be applied at present.

I don’t think any thought has yet been given to a transition period as the availability of electric vehicles builds up before the right operating conditions are in place. Who is going to buy a driverless car they cannot use? I doubt if the manufacturers are going to create a five-year stockpile so there can be an overnight switch-over.

Apart from general curiosity and for amusement purposes, I am not going to think about this any more. I shall probably be bowling along the high street on a mobility scooter by the time this comes to fruition; I shall fit it with big rubber fenders so I can nudge the driverless cars that have suddenly stopped out of the way and wave my angry stick at them.

The PHEV we currently use has a degree of automation and it reacts to sheep, cattle and geese on the roads around our place with remarkable alacrity, slowing earlier than I would and stopping if a goose or lamb breaks free.

Rapid stopping can bring its own hazards. A mix of autonomous and manually driven vehicles could be tricky during the implementation phase of driverless travel.

I am used to either driving myself or being driven by another human. I wonder how I shall feel about sitting in a vehicle on my own, possibly reading a book or making a telephone call, and being conveyed by a computer with seated bodywork attached.

Others have suggested that overall speeds will reduce and it seems to me that there will be controlled chain reactions that will prolong journeys as the human instinct to calculate risk and make judicious positioning moves will be eliminated. We shall see; it will depend heavily on the sophistication of the on-board intelligence and the degree of compatible interconnectivity with the systems in nearby vehicles and the processing thereof.

In 2001 we were returning from the US and landed at Manchester. However, Manchester was fog-bound, but the landing was perfectly executed. After we touched down, the pilot announced that it had been a completely autonomous landing.

We are, I’m certain, entering an era when AI and machines will start to exceed human capabilities by a significant margin. In many ways they already do, and although we may have doubts about how AI would react to this or that it’s worth remembering that we’re still not the safest place in the world to drive, with deaths and serious injuries on the roads continuing to extract a heavy toll.

As an aside we’re both very keen chess players and this discussion inspired me to examine the momentous game between Kasparov and the Big Blue IBM program in 1996, which Kasparov eventually lost. AI has made significant progress since then, so I can foresee a time in the not far distant future when it will be illegal to drive your own vehicle.

There is little doubt that we will see driverless cars on the roads, though maybe not as soon as predicted. It’s easy to envisage some of the problems of driverless cars but at present we share the roads with young and inexperienced drivers, those who are old and slow to react, drivers subject to distractions (such as arguing with passengers, coping with babies and kids, playing with phones, listening to loud music), drunk, tired, ignoring the rules or simply not paying attention.

Computers are well suited to play chess because the consequence of all moves can be predicted with sufficient computational power and there is no possibility of unpredictable events such as the odd pawn or bishop suddenly appearing on the board.

Peter Lawson says:
26 February 2019

We’re just a third world country when it comes to the standard of our roads. I have toured in Holland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and France and the roads have been superb. As soon as you drive off the ferry at Dover it’s back to the shake rattle and roll. I would suggest our road repair contractors are shoddy workmen using shoddy materials because the cheapest contracors have been chosen and so they will do it on the cheap. We might like to blame our government and councils for the poor upkeep but also the vast majority of it is caused by all the utility companies doing an extremely poor job of back filling, and matching materials. Trenches and holes that are dug need compacting all the way through; they are not and consequently settle and sink. They should be forced to offer a money back guarantee that their repair will last at least a couple of years. Where are the road foremen or clerk of works that used to ensure repairs were done to a proper standard? If ever there was a European standard for road repairs it’s obvious we opted out of that one! Also, the non-skid surface put down near crossings and junctions and bends does more harm than good, picking up the surface underneath as it breaks up leaving the area more dangerous than before. I despair sometimes – what is so great about Great Britain?
A quick question for driverless cars. If two driverless cars meet head on along a narrow country lane with no room to pass, which one backs up? And if the one that decides to reverse finds another driverless car behind it, and another ad infinitum, what then? And what if they’ve driven through a muddy puddle and splattered their sensors. There must be countless scenarios to dream up that will foil them. I predict gridlock.

Potholes are not my problem. Country roads where vehicles have damaged the edge of the tarmac are common but easy to avoid, but potholes in the carriageway are few and far between, at least on the roads that I use regularly. My problem is speed humps and bumps, and we have lots on the B-road through the village. The ‘pillow’ ones are easy to straddle unless someone has parked at the side of the road. The problem is the humps that go all the way across the road.

Yesterday I was taking the corner out of the street where I live. There was a loud bang when I was cornering at about 5 mph and a rubber disk shot out from under the car. One of the rear coil springs was broken in two. The other spring had broken eight months ago, albeit without ceremony.

I’m glad we have speed control measures in the village and they do work, but having started to ask around, I’m not alone in having broken springs. I’ve never had problems with springs before, even on older cars.

We tend to have a few, very steep, roads where the weather and forces generated by the driving wheels of vehicles ascending have created a few craters. These are also difficult roads to deal with, since closing them completely for a road relaying process isn’t possible, because of livestock and houses dotted about the place. Add that to the paucity of alternative routes and the narrowness of the roads and it’s pretty much a no-win situation.

It’s the negative side of living in areas of stunning beauty.