The odds are good that you drove or were a passenger in a car today. Even though the rate of car ownership is declining among Americans, there is still approximately 1 vehicle for every 2 people.
It’s indisputable that we rely – heavily– on our highway and road system.
So is it surprising to learn that over 33% of major U.S. roads are in “substandard” condition, according to Pew Research?
It shouldn’t be – there have been warning shots for the last decade. Our failure to invest in the transportation infrastructure in this country – or to even keep up with road maintenance through the federal gas tax – means that we have been shortchanging our highways for years.
The increase in freight traffic as more semi-trucks move goods across the country and the recent patterns of extreme weather aren’t helping.
- 18% of Oregon’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition
- 33% of Washington’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition
- 66% of California’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition (See the state-by-state report)
Bad road conditions aren’t just an inconvenience. Cracked and crumbling roads not only cause excessive wear on cars and trucks, but factor into the number of motor vehicle accidents. Potholes, uneven pavement, and poorly maintained roadsides can all lead to vehicle damage and car accidents. Traffic deaths are already up 9% percent in the first half of 2012 – although the reason for the spike is still unclear.
U.S. motorists pay approximately $67 billion per year in repairs and operating costs as a result of poor road conditions.
While Congress recently passed a surface transportation bill (the previous one had expired nearly 3 years ago, resulting in serious transportation funding issues for states), it is a stop-gap measure that leaves the future funding uncertain.
If we continue to fail to invest in the nation’s roads, we will soon be facing a rapid increase in infrastructure deterioration – and more public safety issues.