New Study Reveals Pothole Damage Costs U.S. Drivers $3B a Year

March 14, 2016

A new study from AAA reveals that pothole damage has cost U.S. drivers $15 billion in vehicle repairs over the last five years, that’s about $3 billion annually. With two-thirds of Americans concerned about potholes on local roadways, AAA cautions drivers to remain alert to avoid pothole damage, and urges state and local governments to fully fund and prioritize road maintenance to reduce vehicle damage, repair costs and driver frustration.

pothole “In the last five years, 16 million drivers across the country have suffered pothole damage to their vehicles,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “The problems range from tire punctures and bent wheels, to more expensive suspension damage.”

The American Trucking Associations say truckers see cars sidelined by potholes frequently.

“Professional truck drivers know the hazards associated with potholes because they see it in their daily work – cars sitting on the side of the road, blown tires creating unsafe conditions and traffic congestion slowing the movement of freight,” said ATA president and CEO Bill Graves.

According to AAA’s survey, middle- and lower-income individuals are the most worried about potholes, with the majority of respondents in households having annual incomes under $75,000 expressing the highest levels of concern over damaged roadways. This is likely due in part to the financial impact, as pothole damage can lead to expensive and extensive vehicle repairs.

Other findings of the survey:

  • Nearly two thirds of U.S. drivers are concerned about potholes.
  • Drivers 45 years and older are more likely to concerned than drivers ages 18-44.
  • The average repair costs for pothole damage repairs was $306.

“On average, American drivers report paying $300 to repair pothole-related vehicle damage,” continued Nielsen. “Adding to the financial frustration, those whose vehicles incurred this type of damage had it happen frequently, with an average of three times in the last five years.”

Every year, AAA responds to more than four million calls for flat tire assistance, many the result of damage caused by potholes. Spare tires, an important feature missing from one-third of 2015 model year vehicles sold, are critical for drivers affected by pothole damage. Tire inflator kits have replaced the spare tire in millions of vehicles over the last 10 model years and, due to their limited functionality, cannot provide even a temporary fix for pothole damage. AAA has called on automakers to put consumer interests first and halt the elimination of spare tires in new models.

Besides tire damage, potholes can cause damage to wheels and suspension.

In addition, the ATA continues to call on lawmakers at every level of government – federal, state and local – to fully fund infrastructure repairs, and urges all drivers to stay safe by remaining alert and paying attention to potholes in their communities.

Congress increased transportation funding in 2015 to help pay for road repair, but as much as $170 billion in additional funding is needed per year to significantly improve America’s roads and bridges.

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