Sustainability Infrastructure

American roads cost car owners $500 a year on average

Photo of a pothole in Oakland, California
A large pothole is visible on 20th Street on July 12, 2017 in Oakland, California. Drivers in San Francisco and Oakland pay an estimated $978 per year to repair vehicle damage from driving on roads with potholes and uneven pavement. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Story at a glance

  • The American Society of Civil Engineers gives the U.S. a “D” grade for its roads and
    strongly recommends prioritizing highway maintenance and funding.
  • The states with the best roads are Tennessee, Georgia and Florida.
  • The south generally has better roads than the rest of the nation.

Bad roads can really hurt. Tires, axles and shock absorbers take a beating from damaged roads, costing the average American car owner more than $500 each year in repairs. But in states with better road and highway upkeep, that cost goes way down.

Data from the Federal Highway Commission shows that in states with better roads, car owners are spending less on car repairs, according to data analysis by QuoteWizard. Doing road upkeep is difficult in part because the funding source for repairs, the Highway Trust Fund, isn’t as powerful as it used to be. Because federal gas and diesel taxes haven’t been raised since 1993, inflation has cut their actual value by 40 percent, says the American Society of Civil Engineers’ infrastructure report card.

Cuurently, the states with the best road infrastructure are Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida, according to the QuoteWizard analysis. All three have fewer than 10 percent of their roads considered “poor,” and cost the average car owner about $350 or less for repairs annually. In general, the southeastern United States has the best roads, US News reports. The roads that cost drivers the most are Oklahoma, California and Rhode Island.

To improve roads nationwide, the Federal Highway Administration’s Every Day Counts program helps states access proven innovations. The innovations are intended to improve project efficiency at the state and local level. For example, through EDC, Iowa’s department of transportation runs their projects without paper, and Topeka, Kansas, improved the coordination of their traffic lights.

The American Society of Civil Engineers creates an annual infrastructure report card. For now, the United States has a “D” grade, but they lay out recommendations for improvement, including prioritizing highway repairs, increasing funding and ensuring that good roads have a long lifespan.