TRIP report says urban areas with roughest roads cost drivers up to $1,044 annually

Washington D.C.-based TRIP found driving on deteriorated urban roads costs motorists as much as $1,044 annually, according to a new report from the national transportation research group.

The report evaluated pavement conditions in the nation’s large and mid-sized urban areas and calculated the additional costs passed on to motorists as a result of driving on rough roads. The report also focused on  transportation funding, travel trends and economic development. Pavement condition and vehicle operating costs were examined for urban areas with populations of 250,000 or greater. 

AAA Spokesman Michael Green told TI News Daily, “Future drivers would be surprised to learn one quarter of our roads are bad, and that raises challenges in driving,” he said. “The average American driver sits in traffic 38 hours a year and most live in urban areas. That has an effect on time in traffic, it’s harmful for the economy, and it means time away from friends and family that we can never get back.”

Green said the irony is Congress has balked at raising the federal gas tax in order to repair the nation’s crumbling infrastructure but Americas are spending even more on repairs due to poor road conditions.

“Crumbling roads stretch nerves and wallets, create higher repair bills, and hundreds in related costs. It’s bad for the economy. AAA has long supported a gas tax increase; it’s the most effective way to pay for roads and bridges.”

Green said AAA supports a long-term funding bill to create stability. “Congress needs to figure out how to secure a long-term bill. The days of looking through couch cushions to find transportation funding is over.” AAA is advocating a 10-15 cent per gallon federal gas tax increase. “The goal is to increase the tax enough to cover inflation since the tax hasn’t been raised since 1993,” he said.

According to the TRIP report, in 2013 more than one quarter of the nation's major urban roads had pavements that were in substandard condition and provided an unacceptably rough ride to motorists, costing the average urban driver $516 annually. The nationwide annual cost of driving on deteriorated roads totals $109.3 billion.

The federal government is a critical source of funding for road and highway repairs. But the lack of adequate funding beyond the expiration of the Highway Trust fund on July 31 threatens the future condition of the nation’s roads and highways.

Rocky Moretti, director of policy and research at TRIP, told TI News Daily, “urban pavement conditions continue to deteriorate; the trends are heading in the wrong direction.”

Moretti said vehicle travel is increasing now that the economy is rebounding after several years of travel remaining constant due to the 2008 recession. “In May we found that 3.4 percent more people are on the roads,” he said. “The higher the travel growth, the more needs for better roads, bridges and infrastructure. The report also points out our urban areas have even worse conditions, and that’s costing money for urban driving on those rough roads.”

Moretti agrees with Green that Congress needs to find a long-term solution. “Clearly the lack of a well-funded, long-term transportation program is undermining states’ abilities to fix their roads."