Trucking conglomerate National Retail Systems, Inc. (NRS) is conducting a new nationwide survey of U.S. truck drivers to find out what they think of the roads crisscrossing America – specifically whether they are in better or worse shape today compared to when they first starting driving and if said conditions are causing more tractor downtime for repairs, among other issues.
“I think the state of our roads frequently comes up in conversation this time of year, particularly in the Northeast where many roads are in bad shape as a result of the winter weather,” Chris Saville, marketing director for NRS – which is the parent company of Keystone Freight Corp. & National Retail Transportation – told Fleet Owner. “[Thus] who better to give us an honest assessment on the state of U.S. roads than the people who know them better than anyone?”
He added that collecting truck driver feedback on this issue should prove “extremely valuable” because their experiences are a strong barometer to assess the state of the nation’s roads and how much time and money is lost due to the conditions of those roads.
Saville also pointed to several sets of statistics to highlight why the road conditions of U.S. roads are a major problem:
- Some 42% of major urban highways in the U.S. are congested, costing the economy an estimated $101 billion in wasted time and fuel each year.
- The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the nation’s roads a grade of “D” in its 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructures.
- The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates that $170 billion in capital investment would be needed on an annual basis to significantly improve conditions and performance.
- While conditions have improved in the near term, with federal, state, and local capital investments in roadways increasing to $91 billion annually, FHWA said that level of investment is insufficient and still projected to result in a decline in conditions and performance long term.
- According to the ASCE’s 2013 report card, the average age of the nation’s 607,380 bridges is currently 42 years.
- To whittle down the deficient “bridge backlog” over the next 13 years or by 2028, the FHWA said it will take an estimated investment of $20.5 billion annually – yet only $12.8 billion is currently being spent on bridge repairs.
- The biggest challenge for federal, state, and local governments is to increase bridge investments by $8 billion annually to address the identified $76 billion in needs for deficient bridges across the U.S.
- Overall, the nation’s bridges received a grade of C+, according to the ASCE’s 2013 report card.
NRS’s Saville stressed that getting direct truck driver feedback on the condition of America’s surface transportation infrastructure will be “particularly valuable” in light of the ongoing driver shortage and capacity crunch being experienced by the motor carrier industry.
“Is the industry able to withstand further capacity shortages and delays as a result of poor road conditions? Their experiences will be a strong barometer to assess the state of the nation’s roads and how much time and money is lost due to the conditions of those roads,” he explained.