AAA: pothole damage costs drivers $6.4 billion a year

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- AAA Mid-Atlantic is warning drivers about the costly effects of potholes. According to AAA in a press release on Monday, "Adjusted for inflation, the annual tab for pothole damage is likely to set motorists in the USA back nearly $6.4 billion, a leading traffic engineer calculates."

As you may have found out the hard way, hitting a pothole could damage your tires, wheels, shocks, or struts. Repairing that damage can be expensive. According to AAA, repair costs can range from $50 for a simple wheel alignment to $500 or more for replacing a top-of-the-line alloy wheel. Over the life of a car, insurance agents say that a driver can pay up to $2,000 or more in repair costs due to damage from poor road conditions.

MORE: How to Report a Pothole for Fixing

AAA is encouraging drivers toreport potholes and file for damage reimbursements from local governments. AAA Mid-Atlantic Manager of Public and Government Affairs John B. Townsend II said, "Many drivers are unaware of the fact the state or local government will reimburse them if they file a claim for pothole damage to their vehicles. So provide proof with a repair receipt and submit photos of the pothole and the damage to your car."

The Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America says approximately 500,000 claims are filed each year for pothole damage. IIABA cited a 1997 Environmental Working Group and Surface Transportation Policy Project report when it wrote, "Nearly $4.8 billion is spent each year to repair damage to cars resulting from Americans 'run-ins with potholes, utility cuts and other dangerous road conditions—almost four times the $1.3 billion a year spent on road repairs by state highway departments.

MORE: How To File a Claim for Pothole Damage to Your Vehicle

AAA says that figure would be approximately $6.4 billion in 2014, according to the calculations of calculates Richard Retting, M.S., FITE, General Manager and Director of Safety Research with Sam Schwartz Engineering in Washington, D.C.

Many times the drivers cover those costs. AAA advises drivers to check to see if the state, city or county government reimburses drivers for the damaged sustained by potholes before filing a claim with insurers. "Depending upon the amount of the damages and the deductible you have, it may not be wise to file a claim for the damages," commented Kendall Bramble, an insurance counselor with AAA Insurance. "Filing a claim for pothole damage may impact future auto insurance rates. Your rates could increase when you are up for renewal."

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AAA says that potholes aren't the only problem when it comes to costs for drivers. "Driving on roads sorely in need of repair costs Maryland motorists $1.598 billion a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs, or '$422 per motorist,'" according to the American Society of Civil Engineers' 2013 Report Card for America's Infrastructure. In Virginia, drivers spend $1.344 billion a year, or $254 per motorist, while It costs District of Columbia drivers $311 million a year, or $833 per motorists, according to ASCE.


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