Potholes and road cracks are more than annoyances. The wear and tear also cost American drivers hundreds of dollars in car maintenance every year.
The average American driver spends $523 in extra vehicle operation and maintenance annually, according to a new analysis by the national transportation research firm TRIP. In 2015, Washington Post writer Christopher Ingraham coined this hidden fee as the “pothole tax.”
Drivers may pay above or below the national average, depending on where they live. Drivers in Oklahoma City, for example, pay nearly double the national average at $1,025 per year. Compared to roads in good condition, bumpy and unpaved roads wear on your tires faster and lower your gas mileage, which factor into TRIP’s calculations.
Nearly one-third of the nation’s major city roads are rated in sub-standard or poor condition, says the report. The worst roads in the US are in two Californian cities: Concord and San Francisco, where 75% and 71% of major roadways are rated as poor respectively.
As CityLab notes, America does not have a great track record with investment in highway maintenance. From 2004 to 2008, states dedicated just 43% of their highway budgets to maintaining roads, while new construction received more than half the funding. From 2009 to 2011, states spent $20.4 billion on road expansion, and just $16.5 billion on repair.
Though maintenance projects are often left up to the states, Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan doesn’t suggest the US will shift national priorities toward road repair anytime soon. The president-elect hopes to devote a large portion of his $1 trillion package to highways, but many experts say that Trump’s private funding scheme would incentivise new construction over repairs.
Meanwhile, all signs point toward the other direction.
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