My daily drive home includes a one-half mile two-lane ramp entering I-70. It’s a busy ramp. The right lane has a break in the pavement seam that’s close to six inches wide, and it may be deep enough to reach china. I discovered this pothole by hitting it at 30 MPH. It was a jarring, steering wheel grabbing experience. It bent a rim. The break in the pavement has been there for over two months. Every day I watch helplessly as drivers make impact. The rupture is large enough that 18 wheelers make a loud bang and jounce up and down when they hit it.

What is the Cost?

We all face the cost of vehicle repair due to under-maintained roads, but what if your vehicle has 18 wheels? And…what if tires cost $400 each? Let’s see 18 times $400 that equals—a lot of money. It’s not only tires, bad roads damage wheels and front ends, they can compromise suspension and alignment, and even impact undercarriages. We’ve all seen parts and pieces such as exhaust pipes scraped from the underbelly of vehicles littering road sides.

Double the Pain

Most of us who have driven for a few years have experienced the cost of replacing damaged pieces of our vehicles due to poor roads. We understand that cost, but there’s another insidious cost to improperly maintained infrastructure. This other cost permeates every part of our life. It adds to the cost of everything we consume from fuel oil and medical supplies to fresh produce and winter coats. Remember those 18 tires at $400 each? Who do you think pays for those? In part, the increased cost of vehicle maintenance due to poor driving conditions is passed on to the consumer.

What Can We Do?

We can begin by supporting infrastructure repair initiatives. Is it Time to Invest in our Highways? In many cases, the longer we wait the more damage will accrue and the more expensive the repair will be. It’s not much different from maintaining our personal vehicles—if you let it go it could cost you more in the long run. Our damaged roads and bridges in America  cost us all.

In the Meantime Take These Precautions

We’re all paying twice for improperly maintained roads. We pay for the wear and tear on our personal vehicles and we pay in added costs to shipped products as consumers. When it’s our own vehicle that’s damaged—when we lose a tire, rim, or front end—we may be motivated to take action; we may contact city hall and our public servants to do something about it. But shouldn’t we be just as proactive when it’s not us, but our friends, neighbors, and the trucking company delivering our goods?