In common with many other resource allocation problems, road maintenance management involves needs-based decision making, examples of which have arisen in studies of the location and resourcing of road maintenance patrol depots in Victoria and South Australia. The measure of maintenance need used in those studies served its purposes satisfactorily but is recognised as having some shortcomings, particularly if it were to be used in wider applications. This paper explores the nature of more appropriate measures of maintenance need and considers their place in a broad maintenance management process. It is observed that suitable measures of need must be based on deficiencies in road condition and must look directly to the future, rather than extrapolating from records of past maintenance activities. Finally, it is concluded that a broad process of needs-based maintenance management can extend beyond assisting decisions on the identification, scheduling and resourcing of maintenance work, to also consider the benefits and costs associated with different levels of road condition standards and different levels of road maintenance funding.