I’ve mentioned on several ocassions that I’m always on the outlook for hidden costs because these are expenses that most people never realize are costing them money. USAToday has a new one that makes perfect sense, but which I hadn’t really thought about before seeing it – bad roads cost you money:
Crumbling roads and highways in the nation’s metropolitan areas are imposing a “hidden tax” on motorists by increasing costs to maintain their vehicles, according to a survey released today.
Twenty-six percent of the USA’s major urban and suburban roads have substandard pavement that provides an unacceptably rough ride to motorists, according to TRIP, a non-profit research group in Washington that is funded by the insurance, highway construction and automotive industries.
So how much are these bad roads costing you? Another TRIP report for Virginia estimates that bad roads cost “$920 per licensed driver – in the form of traffic accidents, additional vehicle operating costs and congestion related delays. According to the USATodat article, “Driving on rough roads is costing the average urban motorist about $383 annually in (added) vehicle-maintenance costs.”
The study was based on 2004 data when gasoline was a lot cheaper so chances are that the added cost of bad roads is significantly more today. While I personally try to avoid driving as much as possible, I do pick and choose when given a choice. For example, when driving up to San Francisco, I will almost always take 280 rather than 101 due to the horrid condition of 101. 280 goes through the hills and therefor keeps big rig trucks off of it due to the increased cost of gas for them. While I knew that gas consumption was less going 101, I may be breaking even taking the alternative route with less wear and tear on the car. If it is a toss-up, I’d much rather drive the scenic route.
There isn’t a whole lot most people can do about this hidden cost since commutes are usually pretty basic and straight forward. The one main thing you can do is get up earlier to miss the commute crowd – this is something I did when I did have a commute. The entire commute is a lot less stressful, you get there in much less time and end up saving quite a bit in gas. Then I always had an hour before work to read the newspaper. You may also want to look into alternative routes knowing this new information.