Britain’s roads are ranked 27th in the world for quality, behind European economies such as Germany, France and Spain as well as Cyprus and Chile, according to a World Economic Forum report.
And an investigation by The Times has found that cash-strapped local councils are using bureaucratic measures to avoid fixing potholes, and will not even consider repairing some until they reach 6cm.
Overrunning roadworks are another huge problem for motorists, it found, with fines for overruns on roadworks by utility companies doubling in the past five years.
But under government plans, thousands of roadworks a year will be shifted away from roads to cut congestion and prevent thoroughfares from being plagued by potholes, with utility companies ordered to put new pipes and cables under pavements or grass verges as a default position before seeking to dig up roads.
Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, said that the change was needed because potholes were far more likely to appear on sections of roads that had been recently dug up.
The Times transport correspondent Graeme Paton, talking to Jamie East, said: "Things have been bad for some time and the cold snap we had at the end of February really tipped things over the edge in many parts of the country.
"We were getting a lot of reports from people about how bad their local roads were. In many ways, they were teetering on the edge and the 'Beast from the East' just pushed them over it."