Pot­hole dam­age costs U.S. driv­ers $3 bil­lion an­nu­ally, AAA re­ports

The Calvert Recorder - Southern Maryland Automotive Trends - - News -

A new study from AAA reveals that pot­hole dam­age has cost U.S. driv­ers $15 bil­lion in ve­hi­cle re­pairs over the last five years, or ap­prox­i­mately $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.

“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.”

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 ve- hi­cle re­pairs.

“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.”

To min­i­mize ve­hi­cle dam­age, AAA urges driv­ers to en­sure tires are prop­erly in­flated and have ad­e­quate tread depth, as they are the only cush­ion be­tween a pot­hole and the ve­hi­cle. 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. To avoid pot­holes in the road­way, driv­ers should re­main alert, scan the road and in­crease fol­low­ing dis­tances be­hind the ve­hi­cle ahead.

AAA’s mem­bers are pay­ing a steep price for bad road con­di­tions, and those costs are ex­pected to rise even higher in the years ahead. Amer­i­cans rely on our na- tion’s roads and bridges ev­ery day, and more fund­ing is des­per­ately needed to pre­vent pot­holes, other un­safe con­di­tions and longer com­mutes. 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.

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.

When deal­ing with vehi- cle dam­age, it’s crit­i­cal to se­lect a high-qual­ity re­pair fa­cil­ity such as a AAA Ap­proved Auto Re­pair (AAR) shop. Once a fa­cil­ity meets AAA’s high stan­dards, in­clud­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tions, tech­ni­cal train­ing, clean­li­ness, in­surance re­quire­ments and back­ground checks, it be­comes part of the AAR pro­gram where it’s re-in­spected an­nu­ally and mon­i­tored for on­go­ing cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion. AAA mem­bers re­ceive unique ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing pri­or­ity ser­vice, a 24-month/24,000-mile war­ranty, spe­cial dis­counts, free in­spec­tions, dis­pute res­o­lu­tion as­sis­tance and more.

As North Amer­ica’s largest mo­tor­ing and leisure travel or­ga­ni­za­tion, AAA pro­vides more than 56 mil­lion mem­bers with travel, in­surance, fi­nan­cial and au­to­mo­tive-re­lated ser­vices. Since its found­ing in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-pay­ing AAA has been a leader and ad­vo­cate for the safety and se­cu­rity of all trav­el­ers. Mo­torists can map a route, iden­tify gas prices, find dis­counts, book a ho­tel and ac­cess AAA road­side as­sis­tance with the AAA Mo­bile app for iPhone, iPad and An­droid. AAA clubs can be vis­ited on the In­ter­net at AAA.com.

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