Civils firms have called for new pothole repair funding models after research showed an increase in damage caused by poor road surfaces.
A report by transport research body the RAC Foundation shows that councils received 48,664 compensation claims from vehicle owners in the year to April 2014.
This was up 5% from the year before – although the total bill fell because fewer claims were successful.
The Civil Engineering Contractors Association said the huge backlog of work to be carried out on Britain’s roads showed urgent change was needed.
“To ensure there is enough money for highways maintenance alongside other major infrastructure projects, we have proposed wider use of prudential borrowing, while consideration should also be given to private finance models and the targeted use of local authority reserves,” said Ceca chief executive Alasdair Reisner.
RAC Foundation director Stephen Glaister called for road repairs to be prioritised ahead of the £43bn High Speed 2 (HS2 )project.
“Worn out road surfaces do not simply cause damage to vehicles, they are potentially lethal, particularly for two-wheeled road users,” he said.
“This is not an anti-HS2 argument, but how can a government commit to a scheme like that when a vital infrastructure network on which nine out of 10 passenger miles takes place crumbles away?
“This is about prioritisation and our roads should be at the top of the list. That’s not just our view, it is a regular response from the public when they are asked to give their transport priorities.”