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Urban Slalom: CAA report shows that poor roads cost Canadian drivers $3B annually

Ottawa, Ontario — Canadians from all over are paying double for the potholes in their communities—once through their taxes to get them fixed—and again after no one follows through and they go unfilled.

In fact, a new study from the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) shows that Canadians are paying about $3 billion a year in vehicle operating costs due to poor road infrastructure.

“Canada’s roads are vital for commuters, business and connecting communities,” said Ian Jack, vice-president of public affairs for CAA National. 

“This study shows for the first time the hidden cost to drivers of below-average roads. And it demonstrates that governments would save money in the long run if they brought roads up to—not perfection—but a good standard. That should be attainable.”

This study is the first in Canada to show the cost to vehicle owners of poor roads, rather than focusing on how much it costs to build or repair them. 

CAA’s analysis revealed the average Canadian driver incurs an extra $126 in costs annually due to the poor quality of roads—a total of $3 billion for drivers collectively. That cost comes in the form of more vehicle repairs, higher maintenance and other operating expenses.

“A vehicle is the second-largest expense for the average household,” said Jack. 

“And when Canadians are paying higher vehicle operating costs due to poor roads, that is money they no longer have to spend on everyday wants and needs.”

The study uses self-reported data from provincial and municipal agencies, who indicated that 43 percent of Canadian roads are rated below average. 

Using the most recent data available from Statistics Canada, the study calculates how much more drivers pay in maintenance and other costs when they drive on poor roads as compared to good roads. 

According to the press release from CAA, “Good doesn’t mean brand new, just consistently well-maintained.”

“Repairing roads before they are allowed to deteriorate is a win-win proposition: it saves governments money and it saves drivers money,” said Jack. 

“The study finds that spending one dollar on pavement preservation eliminates or delays spending $6-$10 on costly repairs later.

The full report can be read here.

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