AAA Finds Pothole Damage Costing US Drivers $3B a Year for Vehicle Repairs

AASHTO Journal, 26 February 2016

The AAA motor club in a new study found that pothole damage has cost U.S. drivers $15 billion in vehicle repairs over the last five years or about $3 billion annually.

“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.”

potholegraphic.jpgAAA cautioned drivers to remain alert to avoid pothole damage, and urged state and local governments to fully fund and prioritize road maintenance to reduce vehicle damage, repair costs and driver frustration.

The group also said a survey found middle- and lower-income individuals are the drivers most worried about potholes, with the highest levels of concern from respondents in households with annual incomes below $75,000.

“On average, American drivers report paying $300 to repair pothole-related vehicle damage,” Nielsen said. “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.”

The auto club knows about this issue from direct experience. AAA said that every year it responds to more than four million calls for flat tire assistance, many the result of damage caused by potholes.”

To minimize vehicle damage, AAA urged drivers to make sure tires are properly inflated and have adequate tread depth, “as they are the only cushion between a pothole and the vehicle.”

It also gave some advice that shows how pothole-riddled roads can also constrict traffic. “If a pothole strike is inevitable, it is also critical that drivers slow down, release the brakes and straighten steering before making contact with the pothole,” AAA said. “To avoid potholes in the roadway, drivers should remain alert, scan the road and increase following distances behind the vehicle ahead.”

AAA also said while Congress increased roadway program funding late last year, “more funding is desperately needed to prevent potholes, other unsafe conditions and longer commutes.” It said that “as much as $170 billion in additional funding is needed per year to significantly improve America’s roads and bridges.”

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