Challenges and Solutions For America’s Roads

Ensuring Drivability

The nation’s roads and highways are critical to social and economic mobility; however, years of deferred maintenance and underinvestment have left the countrywith a road network that does not meet drivers’ expectations for a safe, smooth, comfortable ride. This neglect has direct costs for drivers in terms of vehicle wear-and-tear and it has broader economic costs connected with the slowed delivery of goods and services. 

To better understand the expectations and experiences of road users and owners alike, Edelman Berland, on behalf of the Asphalt Pavement Alliance, a partnership of the Asphalt Institute, the National Asphalt Pavement Association, and the State Asphalt Pavement Associations, conducted a series of interviews and surveys with pavement specifiers and drivers. 

 The surveys found that drivers understand the connection between poor road conditions and underinvestment in infrastructure. They see that departments of transportation and public works agencies do not have the resources needed to properly maintain roads at a level of good ride quality, and they are willing to see user fees increase if it means money goes into maintaining and improving roads. It was discovered that the attributes pavement engineers associate most closely with asphalt match up best with what drivers want from their roads: a smooth surface that’s easy to maintain with minimally disruptive roadway work zones. Specifically, the survey of drivers and commercial truckers found that: 

 84% of drivers and 73% of commercial truckers want well-maintained roads without the inconvenience of roadway shutdowns by having maintenance performed during off-peak hours and the road open for rush hour. 

 Most drivers, 69%, said they are willing to accept periodic maintenance delays if it means they get to enjoy a smooth driving experience. Smooth, well-maintained roads are more comfortable for drivers; they also cause less wear-and-tear on vehicles, reducing operating costs. 

 86% of drivers and 78% of commercial truckers feel spending priorities should focus on the maintenance and repair of existing roads, rather than on building new roads. 

 A majority, 51% of drivers and 52% of truckers, support new or additional funding mechanisms to ensure adequate funding for roadway maintenance and construction. 

 It is a tall order for DOTs and other pavement decision makers to fill, but they do have widespread public support across the country for increased funding when it is devoted to transportation maintenance and improvement projects.

Click here to read the full survey report.

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