We knew America had a pothole problem. But just how bad is it? Well it’s bad to the tune of $3 billion dollars in pothole damage each year. And we’d call that pretty bad.
AAA lists the figure in a new road report on the state of U.S. roads. Researchers say pothole damage has cost U.S. drivers $15 billion in vehicle repairs over the past five years, or $3 billion a year. Problems range from punctured tires and bent wheels, to more expensive suspension damage.
The study also found that two-thirds of drivers are concerned about damaged roads due to the repair costs. On average, AAA says drivers report paying $300 to repair pothole-related damage. What’s more is that it’s happening repeatedly for some drivers — who are having to get their vehicles repaired an average of three times in the past five years. We’d definitely call that frustrating.
Automakers, including Ford and Chevrolet, are conducting extreme pothole testing to help them build better suspension systems. But there are a few things drivers can do as well to minimize the damage, while waiting for the roads to get fixed.
- Ensure your tires are properly inflated and have adequate tread so they cushion pothole impact
- Slow down when you see a crater in the road
- Release the brakes and straighten steering before you drive over one
- Always remain alert, scan the road and keep plenty of space between yourself and the vehicle in front of you
The nation’s roadways are in no doubt in critical need of repairs and the federal government knows it. Congress increased transportation funding in 2015 to help pay for road repair, but AAA says as much as $170 billion in additional funding is needed per year to significantly improve America’s roads and bridges.
AAA says it responds to more than four million calls for flat tire assistance each year, many cases due to damage caused by potholes. It doesn’t help that one-third of automakers no longer provide spare tires in their vehicles, an issue we’ve mentioned before. The reason is that the lack of a spare cuts down on weight and increases fuel economy. Tire inflator kits have replaced them 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 says it is calling on automakers to put consumer interests first and stop eliminating spare tires in new models.