NC Drivers Pay $1350/Year Due to Road Conditions

March 29, 2010

Here’s another reason to save money on auto insurance in North Carolina: the road conditions will cost you the equivalent of an extra tank of gas every week.

Last week, a national transportation group released the results of a study which estimated that drivers in the two largest urban areas in North Carolina lose an average of $1,350/year due to pot holes, perilous roadways, and longer-than-usual waits in traffic, car repairs and “accidents where roadway design likely contributed to a wreck.”

The study was completed by a nonprofit group called TRIP, based in Washington, and was based primarily on federal highway and traffic safety statistics. Some of the state “transportation boosters” are hoping the results will spur the North Carolina legislature to approve new fund raising methods for road construction. Several years ago, the state had an estimated $65 billion funding gap through the year 2030, between projected transportation needs and available sources of funds.

Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP explained, “North Carolina is falling behind in maintaining its major roads, bridges and highways and the state lacks adequate funding with numerous projects that would greatly enhance economic development in the state.”

North Carolina did receive $838 million in federal stimulus funds for ready-to-build roads and bridges, but that is merely a short-term solution for a state with a population that is expected to increase by a third to 12 million people, and vehicle travel is expected to increase by 45 percent over the next twenty years.

At a news conference in Raleigh, North Carolina Transportation Secretary Gene Conti agreed with TRIP’s findings, saying, “The bottom line is our needs are growing in North Carolina. Our revenue stream is not. We need to continue to work hard and do more with less, but I don’t think at the end of the day that’s going to get the job done.”

TRIP’s findings said that in Charlotte, costs above “normal” driving and maintenance averaged $1,351/year, with a similar average of $1,350/year in Raleigh-Durham. Drivers in Winston-Salem and Greensboro still pay more than average, about $900/year. This number is less because those cities are less congested. Throughout the state, deteriorating and congested roads, and those which lack improved safety features result in a cost of $5.7 billion to North Carolina drivers. The state ranks fourth-lowest in the country for per-mile capital spending on its roadways, and has the second-largest state-maintained highway system. Wilkins discouraged the calculation of a statewide driver average because only the three metro areas had available congestion statistics.

There are more than six million drivers in North Carolina.