Traffic

Two-Thirds of Americans Believe the Federal Government Should Increase Transportation Spending

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 10, 2014) – Two-thirds of Americans (68 percent) believe the federal government should invest more than it does now on roads, bridges and mass transit systems, according to a new AAA omnibus survey of 2,013 adults. Only five percent of respondents believe the federal government should spend less on transportation. These results come as AAA urges members of Congress to increase the fuel tax, which will address significant transportation safety and congestion issues nationwide.

Survey Highlights

  • About half of Americans (52 percent) are willing to pay higher fuel taxes per month on average for better roads, bridges and mass transit systems.
  • Nearly three times as many people (51 percent) are more likely to vote for a member of Congress who supports increased federal spending on transportation than would be less likely (19 percent).
  • Approximately two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) agree that taxes on gasoline and diesel consumption are appropriate for transportation funding.
  • More people believe that roads, bridges and transit systems have declined in quality over the previous three years (43 percent) than those who believe the quality has improved (32 percent).

AAA Commentary

“Americans are fed up with record-long commutes, unsafe highways and never-ending potholes caused by political inaction,” said Bob Darbelnet, AAA President and CEO. “Congress must prevent severe maintenance delays during the height of the summer driving season by preventing a Highway Trust Fund bankruptcy in August.”

AAA supports a federal gas tax increase, provided the funds go towards projects that ease congestion and improve safety. The gas tax is the most efficient and fair method available to pay for transportation maintenance and improvements in the near term. An increase in fuel taxes, spent wisely, should help reduce the estimated $324 per year in additional vehicle repairs and operating costs that the average driver currently spends due to poor road conditions.

The Department of Transportation expects the federal Highway Trust Fund will run out of money this summer without Congressional action, which would delay transportation maintenance and improvement projects nationwide.

“Many of us are willing to pay a little more if it means we will have access to better roads, bridges and transit systems,” continued Darbelnet. “It is time for our nation’s leaders to stand with those in Congress who support improving our country’s transportation system.”

The federal Highway Trust Fund is supported by the 18.4 cents per gallon gas tax and 24.4 cents per gallon tax on diesel. Congress has not raised this tax since 1993. Due to inflation and increased fuel economy, the purchasing power of the current tax has been cut nearly in half.

Survey Questions and Results

  1. Do you believe the quality of roads, bridges and mass transit systems you regularly use have significantly improved; improved; neither improved nor declined; declined; or significantly declined in the past three years?
    • Total
      Significantly improved 4%
      Improved 28%
      Neither improved nor declined 23%
      Declined 27%
      Significantly declined 16%
  2. Do you think the federal government should invest more, less or the same as it does now for roads, bridges and mass transit systems?
    • Total
      More 68%
      Less 5%
      The Same 24%
  3. On average, U.S. drivers contribute about eight dollars per month in federal fuel taxes towards the nation’s roads, bridges and mass transit systems. How much more, if any, would you be willing to pay on a monthly basis for roads, bridges and mass transit systems?
    • Total
      Not willing to pay more 41%
      Willing to pay more (net) 52%
      $0.01-$4.99 20%
      $5.00-$9.99 11%
      $10 or more 21%

     

  4. If your Congressional representative were to support increased federal spending for U.S. roads, bridges and mass transit systems, would you be significantly more likely; somewhat more likely; neither more nor less likely; somewhat less likely; or significantly less likely to vote for them in the next election?
    • Total
      Significantly more likely 17%
      Somewhat more likely 34%
      Neither more nor less likely 27%
      Somewhat less likely 9%
      Significantly less likely 10%
  5. Federal funding for roads, bridges and mass transit systems comes primarily from taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel consumption. Do you think this is an appropriate way to raise funds for this transportation investment?
    • Total
      Yes 67%
      No 29%

Methodology

AAA conducted a telephone survey among two national probability samples (landline only and cell phone), consisting of a combined total of 2,013 adults (1,009 men and 1,004 women), 18 years of age and older and living in the continental United States. Interviewing for this survey was conducted with two waves taking place on May 1-4 and May 8-11, 2014. This study has an average statistical error of 2.7 percent at the 95 percent confidence level for all US adult motorists.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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