BY GERRY MILES
As the warmer temperatures sneak into our weather pattern, interrupting Mother Nature in the New England winter, so too do the crop of potholes in our road ways begin to spring up.
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 the survey, households with incomes less than $75,000 are the most worried about the wheel-wrecking winter rascals, due to the expense of damage and ensuing repairs.
“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.”
To help reduce possible damage, AAA urges drivers to ensure tires are properly inflated and have adequate tread depth, to help cushion the distance and time between the pothole and the vehicle. If you can’t avoid a pothole, AAA urges drivers to slow down, release the brakes and straight the steering before hitting the pothole. of course, drivers who constantly scan the roadway and remain alert have the best chance to avoid the ravages of winter’s wrath.
in 2015, AAA says Congress increased transportation funding 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, which 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. Inflator kits are best for tires that sustain a small puncture hole in the middle of a tire where it can be patched. Any tire that sustains a slash on the sidewall or too large of a whole is rendered useless and no inflator kit will fix the problem.
AAA has called on automakers to put consumer interests first and halt the elimination of spare tires in new models.
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. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.