Claim: Climate Change is Responsible for a “Pothole Plague” – but Robots could Help

by Eric Worrall at

Apparently it’s the climate causing potholes, not slipshod, incompetent road maintenance, super heavy EVs, or people switching to large SUVs because of all the potholes.

Climate change is causing a pothole plague. Are robots and self-healing pavement the solution?

Mia Taylor 25th January 2024

Extreme heat waves, wildfires and flooding are among the most obvious impacts of the Earth’s changing climate.

But dire weather events are not the only way global warming is wreaking havoc worldwide. Climate change is also creating a pothole plague.

In 2023, there were nearly 630,000 reports of potholes in the UK, which marked a five-year high, according to data compiled by campaign groupRound Our Way. In the United States, meanwhile, about 44 million drivers reported damage to their vehicles from potholes in 2022, which was a massive 57% increase over 2021, according to AAA.

While ageing infrastructure and limited road maintenance budgets play a significant role in the problem, another culprit behind the marked proliferation of potholes is severe weather brought about by climate change, which is weakening roads.

“There are a number of issues caused by climate change that are impacting roads,” says Hassan Davani, Ph.D., an associate professor in San Diego State University’s Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering. “Excessive heat can ultimately cause buckling of the roads, where additional thermal stress to the pavement materials can lead to cracks and potholes. We’re also experiencing more extreme flooding events, which causes a higher velocity of stream flow over the roads, resulting in more severe erosion of the pavement.”