90 Percent of Michigan Motorists Rate Roads Fair or Poor
AAA recently released its annual findings using the 2018 Michigan Transportation Survey to gauge motorists concerns over road and bridge quality and results aren’t anything new to report. A growing percent, nearly 90, of Michigan-based drivers are still rating the state’s roads and bridges as fair or poor. There are 10,754 roadway bridges in Michigan. Of these, 4,411 are on the state highway system and 6,343 are located on county roads or city streets.
Michigan Road and Bridge Quality Ratings (AAA 2018)
- Excellent: 1%
- Very Good: 1%
- Good: 9%
- Fair: 31%
- Poor: 58%
The findings come from the 2018 Michigan Transportation Survey, which included 967 Michigan-based drivers at least 18 years old. Participants were asked to identify their gender, age group, how long they’ve been a member of AAA, and were asked specific feedback regarding the quality of the state’s roads and bridges and how the support of them should be funded. AAA says it conducted the survey for members between May 14 and 21 of this year in a news release. In addition, residents said they are not willing to pay more to fix the infrastructure issues.
A similar report by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Michigan mimics AAA findings in relation to the state’s capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience and innovation required to improve state road and transportation infrastructure. As a result, the engineers gave Michigan a D- grade. Part of that reasoning came from the fact that 39 percent of Michigan’s 120,000 miles of roads were rated in poor condition, while another 43 percent rated in fair condition.
The report was compiled by a committee of civil and environmental engineers affiliated with ASCE-Michigan. The last Michigan specific report card issues by ASCE was rolled out in 2009, when the overall grade was a D. When infrastructure systems continue to surpass their intended lifespan, Michigan residents and travelers will pay the price with costly motor vehicle repairs and continue to increase their personal injury and accident risk.
Severe Potholes Remain Huge Concern for Driver Safety in Detroit
In 2018, gaping potholes seemed to pop up everywhere across the state, but especially in the Detroit area where some busy traveled roads are becoming deadly after years of disrepair. The near 10-inch-deep gaps in the roadway are caused by the wear-and-tear and weathering of the already poorly maintained roads. Most cars are not equipped to handle the blow a severe pothole will cause, and drivers can lose control of their vehicle too easily, even at driving as slow as 10 mph and through busy intersections. Motorcycle drivers are also at special risk of injury or death if they ride over a pothole.
Potholes can cause expensive damage to create an impact similar to that of a 35-mph car accident. While a bumpy road may be a minor nuisance to drivers, a road scattered with potholes can cause serious property damage and even result in car accident outcomes including:
- Tire blowouts and wheel damage
- Steering system misalignment
- Engine and exhaust system damage
- Collisions injuries (for in-vehicle occupants, motorcycle drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists)
- Wrongful death
Other road issues that that can lead to serious car accidents include:
- Fixed Object Issues: Examples include utility poles, fallen trees, uncovered water drains, altered road signage.
- Isolated Water (or Ice) Patches: These wet surfaces can cause a vehicle to spin or motorcycle to slide and are typically present because roads don’t properly drain water.
- Positive Guidance: Poorly painted lines or broken, hidden, or missing signs can cause accidents on difficult roads.
- Wheel Ruts: When roads haven’t been resurfaced in a while, grooves where wheels travel most often will dig into the road and make it uneven and trapping for some vehicles.
If a motor vehicle is damaged because of road conditions in Michigan, drivers do have options for reimbursement, but local and state officials are quick to announce that a majority of claims are denied under governmental immunity laws and any claim higher than $1,000 needs to be filed as a lawsuit. According to the Lansing State Journal the “State of Michigan reimbursed only nine of the 267 pothole claims, just three percent, for $1,000 or less made during fiscal year 2017.”
Careful drivers who are alert and make good choices have the best chances of avoiding car accidents but sometimes avoiding an auto accident after hitting a pothole or bump in the road may be impossible to prevent.
Michigan Roads Remain Underfunded
While 54 percent of those polled in the AAA survey admitted they believed current funding wasn’t enough to fix the issue, 30 percent said they did not support any increase of funding whatsoever and feel state policy and spending budgets just is not enough to get the job done for Michigan motorists to navigate safely through the chronic infrastructure problems.
And even though recent legislative pushes by state lawmakers are aimed to approve an additional $400 million for repairs, sustainable funding solutions for roads and bridges appear to be missing. The 2015 bill was approved by the state legislature to increase vehicle registration fees by 20 percent, the gas tax by 7.3 cents per gallon and the diesel tax by 11.3 cents. That money goes to the Michigan Department of Transportation as well as county and local governments for road improvements and will comprise roughly $600 million in new revenue.
Most experts believe Michigan roads will still be underfunded even though the failure to spend $1 in road repair typically results in $7 of cost five years later, not to mention accident injuries and fatal car wrecks could increase. So, with a total boost for road funding expected to reach $1.2 billion by 2021, will it be enough and in time to reduce Michigan motorists’ growing accident risk?
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