Already known as one of the most congested regions in the world, the Greater Los Angeles area can now add another dubious distinction to its name: the worst roads in the United States.
According to a new study performed by TRIP, a nonprofit transportation research group based in Washington D.C., nearly 64% of the Los Angeles-Santa Ana-Long Beach region’s 8,700 miles of public roads are in poor condition, more than any other region with a population greater than 500,000. As a result of these conditions, LA area drivers are spending an average of $832 a year to cover the costs of repairs, tires, and faster vehicle depreciation.
Results of the study are based on 2011 data gathered by the Federal Highway Administration, which grades major state and locally maintained roads and highways in both rural and urban areas on a scale of 1 to 100. The grading includes an index of major road defects like potholes, utility cuts, and other cracks that inflict significant damages to vehicles over time.
Nationwide, more than a quarter of urban roads and highways are in poor condition, says TRIP. Coming in second to the Los Angeles area is Oakland and San Francisco, with 60% of roads in poor condition, followed by San Jose, with 54%.
The news does not come as a surprise to the Los Angeles City Council however, which has given the area’s roads a grade of C-minus overall, with nearly a quarter of roads receiving a failing grade. City officials are looking into a potential $3 billion borrowing program to make improvements, of which some are overdue by more than 60 years.
LA City Council members are also hoping to include a proposal to issue city bonds to grow funding for road improvements on the fall 2014 ballot. “Without a significant boost in transportation funding at the federal, state, and local level, conditions will continue to deteriorate, drivers will continue to pay the price, and our economy will suffer,” says Will Kempton, executive director of Transportation California, a nonprofit organization dedicated to “[ensuring] there will be adequate resources to maintain the state’s roads and also to enhance the transportation system to meet growing needs in the years ahead.”
Driving over cracks and pot holes can do real damage to your vehicle’s tires, suspension, and more, causing them to deteriorate at a much quicker rate. When driving over poorly maintained and crumbling roads, it is important to reduce your speeds, and avoid major potholes whenever it is safe to do so. On crumbled roads it can be much easier to lose traction, and it is more difficult to come to a quick stop to avoid an accident.
As a driver in the Los Angeles area, is it also important to pay close attention to the condition of your tires. Check to ensure they are properly inflated, as both over- and under-inflation can significantly increase your chances for an accident or blowout. Unstable and crack-laden roads will only increase the stresses on your tires, making them wear more quickly. Regularly check the tread levels on your tires, and change them when they have worn down, as they will offer reduced handling and performance, also robbing fuel economy.