Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Battered Road Infrastructure and Its Tremendous Effects on U.S. Economy, Motorists

The roadway system of the United States is an interconnected web of major highways and streets that play a huge role in people’s lives. Not only are the over 4 million miles of public roadways capable of moving people, but they are likewise responsible for keeping the economy moving. These roadways enable the almost 11 million trucks to carry goods from ports and freight train terminals and distribute them to markets and cities all over the nation. In 2011, the whole roadway system carried 3 trillion vehicle miles traveled.

But like any other form of infrastructure in the U.S., the nation’s roadways are facing more and more problems. In fact, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), in its 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, gave roads a grade of D—“poor.” This means that a lot of highways, streets, and even bridges are now in shoddy conditions, which could have repercussions to the economy, as well as to the lives of motorists.

Right now, around a third of the major roadways in the U.S. are either in poor or mediocre condition. Every year, motorists traveling on these yet-to-be-fixed roadways shell out a total of 67 billion dollars in repairs and operating costs. That is $324.00 per motorist. Also, 42 percent of the major urban roadways in the U.S. are highly congested, with 2010 ACSE estimations stating that motorists are wasting nearly 2 billion gallons of fuel and an average of 34 hours. Overall, the U.S. economy loses a whopping $101 billion yearly just because of wasted gas.

Indeed, poorly-maintained roads are fast becoming hindrances not just for the continuity of business operations, but also in the macroeconomic aspects of growth, expansion, and global competitiveness. It does not really help that some of the age-old, dilapidated, waiting-to-be-fixed roadways are the reasons why the U.S. is lagging behind in the field of road infrastructure among economic superpowers. Here, the nation only spends 2.4 percent of its economy in road and other infrastructure efforts. In comparison, Europe spends 5 percent, while China spends 12 percent.

The sorry state of the U.S. roadways is also harming the aspect of motorist safety. In fact, a third of all motor vehicle crash deaths in the nation are due to poor road conditions such as potholes, uneven road surfaces, and other hazards. Apart from the economic losses that these crashes cause—they cost the U.S. economy approximately $230 billion annually—is the surge in injuries and deaths stemming from these unfortunate events.

A car accident attorney in Los Angeles explains that victims of those injured in vehicle accidents are entitled to sue damages to other parties, including city and/or state governments, for negligence in keeping the roadways safe. Indeed, coming up with a budget to maintain pothole-filled roads become a challenge since these entities also have to pay damages for the accident victims.

Indeed, existing road hazards continue to harm not just other people, but also the state of economy in the U.S. Yes, there have been improvements through investments, funding, and construction repair efforts, but these are still insufficient. Unless both the federal and state governments devise long-term solutions, road infrastructure in the whole nation will continue to be battered for years to come.

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