October 13th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro
WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 13, 2015) – A significant majority of Americans (70 percent) believe the federal government should invest more than it does now for roads, bridges and mass transit systems, according to a new survey by AAA. The results also show that only 38 percent of Americans believe that Congress is taking the necessary steps to ensure that our roads, bridges and transit systems will meet the needs of the nation.
“Americans rely on our nation’s roads and bridges every day, yet Congressional inaction has led to longer commutes, more potholes and unsafe conditions,” said Marshall Doney, AAA President and CEO. “Motorists are dissatisfied that our national leaders repeatedly have failed to meet the basic needs of drivers across the country.”
AAA also asked the public to rank its priorities for transportation funding. Conducting routine maintenance of roads and bridges overwhelmingly topped the list, yet all categories included in the survey received significant support. The complete rankings include:
- Conducting routine maintenance and repair of roads and bridges, such as fixing potholes, repaving roads, etc.: 91 percent rate as important
- Expanding public and shared transportation, such as busses, commuter rail and support for car-pooling: 70 percent rate as important
- Conducting traffic safety training programs on topics such as the dangers of speeding, distracted driving and driving while impaired: 67 percent rate as important
- Reducing traffic congestion and travel time by expanding lanes and adding lanes reserved for high-occupancy vehicles: 65 percent rate as important
- Improving transportation information technology, such as automated road and traffic warning signs and route mapping software: 64 percent rate as important
“Potholes and bad roads increase driver stress and can cause significant vehicle damage requiring costly repairs,” continued Doney. “It’s time for Congress to pass long-term funding legislation that ensures our transportation system receives the maintenance necessary to get Americans to work every day.”
Motorists pay a steep price in the form of high repair bills from hitting potholes and sitting in traffic. U.S. drivers annually spend about $324 in additional vehicle repairs and operating costs due to poor roads and bridges.
Few drivers would be surprised to learn that more than 1 in 3 major U.S. roads are in poor or mediocre condition due to inadequate funding. The American Society of Civil Engineers most recently rated the country’s roads with a nearly failing D grade, while bridges earned a C+.
Transportation underpins the U.S. economy, yet an aging system of roads and bridges threatens to harm the country’s future development. Businesses, factories, employers and consumers must be connected to a dependable and modern transportation network to help build and sustain a healthy economy. Whether it’s the movement of freight or the creation of jobs, the nation depends on seamless and efficient transportation.
Congress has wasted billions of dollars by supporting short-term funding patches for roads and bridges, and AAA is calling for a long-term transportation law that meets the needs of drivers for years to come. The current authorization of the federal highway bill is set to expire on October 29 unless Congress acts soon.
The Highway Trust Fund needs $15 billion more per year just to maintain a flat level of funding, while current federal spending meets just one-third of our transportation needs. An annual investment of $120 billion for highways and bridges between 2015 and 2020 is necessary to improve the condition and performance of the system, according to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
AAA conducted a telephone survey among two national probability samples (landline only and cell phone), consisting of a combined total of 1,008 adults, 18 years of age and older and living in the continental United States. Interviewing for this survey was conducted September 10-13, 2015. This study has an average statistical error of 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level for all US adults.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 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.
January 26th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro
Dear Members of the 114th Congress,
AAA, the American Trucking Associations, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce welcome you for the 114th Congress. Our organizations are committed to improving our nation’s infrastructure system and look forward to working with you to fully fund the roads and bridges that are the backbone of American mobility and competitiveness.
Americans are frustrated with our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, including increasingly congested highways and deficient roads and bridges. Thirty-two percent of major roads are in poor or mediocre condition. This neglect costs the average driver $324 each year in additional vehicle repairs and operating costs. Commutes between home and work are longer than ever before, and the average American spends 38 hours each year stuck in traffic. Furthermore, congestion on the Interstate System alone costs freight trucks more than 141 million hours in wasted time, equivalent to 51,000 drivers sitting idle for a working year.
Fortunately, there is a simple solution to address this issue in the near-term: raise the federal fuels user fee, provided the funds are used to ease congestion and improve safety. While the impact of insufficient funding is evident, how we got here is not always clear. With this in mind, our organizations have put together an educational infographic on the Highway Trust Fund to serve as a primer for lawmakers and the general public as the funding of roads and bridges is considered this spring. That infographic can be found here.
There are many challenges that Congress must address this year, but we believe that finding a solution for funding the Highway Trust Fund is at the top of that list. Rather than continuing to resort to short-term funding patches that only delay tough decisions, our organizations support action to address the issue pragmatically, immediately and sustainably. While no one wants to pay more, we urge you to support an increase to the federal fuels user fee, provided the funds are used to ease congestion and improve safety, because it is the most cost efficient and straightforward way to provide a steady revenue stream to the Highway Trust Fund.
The last increase to the federal user fee for gasoline was 1993. Since then, inflation, increased fuel economy, and rising costs associated with labor and construction, have eroded the user fee’s purchasing power. Congress must act to provide a reliable revenue stream to support jobs, address maintenance needs and provide Americans with a safe and efficient transportation system. Congress has patched the Highway Trust Fund five times since 2008, continuing to kick the can further down the road, and now faces yet another looming shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund with current funding set to expire on May 31.
Thank you again for your time and consideration and we look forward to continuing to work together to address the funding needs of our nation’s transportation system.
AAA, American Trucking Associations and U.S. Chamber of Commerce
AAA Calls for Congress to Swiftly Approve Mark Rosekind as NHTSA Administrator Statement by Bob Darbelnet, CEO of AAA
November 20th, 2014 by Amanda Shapiro
WASHINGTON (Nov. 19, 2014) — “AAA applauds the nomination of Mark Rosekind to be the next NHSTA administrator. Mr. Rosekind’s experience with and commitment to motorist safety will be a tremendous asset to an agency that faces important questions about breakdowns in the recall process and is tasked with overseeing the emergence of vehicle safety technologies. AAA urges Congress to act swiftly to approve this nomination and fill the administrator position that has been vacant for far too long.”
July 17th, 2014 by Amanda Shapiro
ORLANDO, Fla., (July 17, 2014) – “Today’s Senate Commerce hearing again sheds light on the unacceptable failure of GM executive management to adequately oversee and respond to early warning signals of potential vehicle safety problems. AAA acknowledges GM’s recent steps to transform its corporate culture by implementing new protocols and procedures intended to help prevent similar crises in the future. However, it is clear more must be done to restore public trust in the recall process, repair compromised vehicles and compensate motorists who have been impacted by GM’s failure to protect their safety. This includes a thorough examination of the existing regulatory structure, and putting in place any changes deemed necessary.”
“AAA continues to support efforts by Congress to raise the maximum fine that NHTSA can levy on automakers, along with legislation introduced by Senators Markey and Blumenthal calling for increased transparency in the recall process. These steps should be taken immediately, and Congress should further use its authority to identify additional ways to help ensure that a tragedy such as this is never allowed to occur again.”
July 10th, 2014 by Amanda Shapiro
(WASHINGTON, July 10, 2014) “Funding for America’s roads and bridges is once again in imminent danger of running out. Both the House and Senate will act today on short-term plans to prop up the Highway Trust Fund, but it remains unclear whether either proposal will help meet the long-term needs of drivers.
“The only way that a short-term patch of the Highway Trust Fund is acceptable is if it buys Congress a few months to work on finalizing a bipartisan, long-term agreement later this year. Any proposal that allows this issue to be pushed into 2015 would kill the momentum to find a real funding solution. Renewing the debate next year under a new Congress would start us over at square one, making it nearly impossible to secure long-term transportation funding anytime soon.
“It’s time our leaders in Washington stop the hand-wringing and start taking real steps to shore up funding for the roads and bridges that we rely on every day. Continuing to put off tough decisions about how to fund transportation will risk road safety and compromise our economic vitality.”
June 10th, 2014 by Amanda Shapiro
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.
- 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).
“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
- 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%
- 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%
- 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%
- 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%
- 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%
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.
May 13th, 2014 by Amanda Shapiro
“AAA welcomes Senators Boxer, Vitter, Carper and Barrasso’s bipartisan transportation bill that increases transparency of how federal dollars are spent. We are encouraged to see leaders in Washington addressing the transportation crisis with detailed proposals rather than general fund bailouts. AAA looks forward to reviewing the details of this bill, and we are pleased it maintains the ban on interstate tolling.
“It is now up to the Senate Finance Committee to consider how Congress will fund this bill. AAA urges Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Hatch to keep all options on the table by committing to a vote on an increase in the federal gas tax in addition to the other funding mechanisms that will be considered by the committee. AAA, like many, recognizes that a federal gas tax increase is the most viable and effective option available, provided the additional funds are thoughtfully invested in transportation improvements that ease congestion and increase safety.”
May 3rd, 2014 by Amanda Shapiro
“This morning the nation lost a true champion of transportation. Former Chairman Oberstar worked tirelessly to restore the “trust” to the Highway Trust Fund and his leadership, expertise and character should serve as an example in Congress for years to come. AAA had the pleasure of awarding Congressman Oberstar with our “Transportation Leaders Award” in 1998 for his efforts to promote a better, safer transportation system, and he epitomized this leadership throughout his 18 terms, whether it was boosting the share of federal dollars used for traffic safety improvements or putting the interests of system users first when it came to innovative transportation finance approaches. Thank you to the people of Northeast Minnesota for sending such a principled and thoughtful leader to Washington, and thank you to Congressman Oberstar for your years of service to this nation. You will be sorely missed.”
April 30th, 2014 by Amanda Shapiro
“The legislation sent to Capitol Hill by President Obama and Secretary Foxx yesterday was not only an important step in starting a robust discussion on how we fund the nation’s roads and bridges, but it also works to address the disturbing trend of recall shortcomings that are front of mind for motorists. This includes recent reports that General Motors was again reluctant to act to recall vehicles with potentially life-threatening defects. These continued reports of some manufacturers weighing the cost of recall against that of inaction, and choosing the latter, must be addressed.
As Secretary Foxx put well yesterday, fines on automakers need to be ‘more than a rounding error’ to ensure compliance. AAA believes that increasing potential penalties from their current maximum of $35 million to $300 million would be a step in the right direction. Similarly, it is appropriate to strengthen the recall process and provide DOT with both the authority and obligation to require manufacturers to quickly remove automobiles from the market when a dangerous defect is discovered. Likewise, rental car companies should participate in the recall of unsafe vehicles AAA will continue to support swift action to protect the safety of American motorists.”
AAA Urges the President and Congress to Address Long-Term Funding Needs Statement by Bob Darbelnet, AAA President and CEO
March 4th, 2014 by Amanda Shapiro
(WASHINGTON, March 4, 2014) “The President’s budget provides essential funds over the next four years for the nation’s transportation system and AAA is encouraged by Secretary Foxx’s pledge that his department will submit a full reauthorization proposal to Congress in the coming months. However, AAA remains concerned with Washington’s tendency to make short-term fixes that only patch, not solve, the U.S. transportation funding crisis.
“Once again, policymakers are settling on politically palatable revenue generators instead of setting the stage for the transportation program to return a meaningful reauthorization and funding process. These sorts of “solutions” can only provide funding for limited term bills and assure only that we avert, not solve this crisis.
“AAA continues to believe that the gas tax represents the most viable, responsible and effective mechanism to achieve the goal of sustaining a transportation system that supports a vital U.S. economy, provided the additional funds generated are thoughtfully spent on transportation improvements that ease congestion and increase safety. AAA urges the President and Congressional leaders to make choices that serve U.S. interests in the long-term, instead of short-term fixes.”