Motoring experts have criticised a decision to ease up on swift repairs of potholes on major roads.
The Highways Agency has revised the rules on potholes which previously required contractors to fix any defects in the surface of the road were repaired within a 24-hour timeframe.
The new rules state that potholes on trunk roads and motorways which are smaller than 15cm wide or 4cm deep are not classed as urgent for repair.
The massive increase in potholes is a consequence of three severe winters with 2010/2011 being the coldest for 100 years combining with years of underinvestment in routine road maintenance.
Neil Greig of the Institute of Advanced Motorists said: “This just seems to be storing up larger repair bills for the future. All large potholes start off as small potholes – it’s easier and cheaper to fix them early and reduce the risk to road users.
“The reaction of the Highways Agency to this crisis is worrying because it seems to be an attempt to switch their legal responsibilities to maintain safe motorways and trunk roads from themselves to their contractors, in the hope they will come up with something.
“The Highways Agency’s roads are the backbone of the country’s transport system which is why the IAM would like to see their risk assessment of this decision to be assured that motorists will not be put at risk.”