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
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
- 33% of Washington’s major roads are in poor or
- 66% of California’s major roads are in poor or
mediocre condition (See the
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.
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.