Death by Pothole: Congress Can Prevent It

Our union has always been a forceful advocate for greater investment in America’s critical transportation infrastructure, in part because of the good family-supporting jobs created by building our roads, bridges and transit systems.

But as much as anyone, LIUNA members feel the cost of decades of neglect. Whether traveling distances to construction jobsites or working in the public service, we understand how serious the issue is, not just in dollars and time, but also in lives.

You can call it death by pothole. A quick scan of the news in the past month shows the toll – from the high school senior in Michigan killed when her car struck a pothole and went airborne to the New York father who perished when he struck a pothole and was thrown from his vehicle. Each year, an estimated 10,000 people are killed in traffic accidents due in part to poor road conditions, such as potholes, according to the independent research group, TRIP.

In addition to the thousands of deaths and injuries caused by the failure of our government to do something so simple as fill potholes, most of us have paid a financial price.

It pales in comparison to the loss of life, but I, like many of us, have had to dig into my pockets to pay for damages caused by a pothole. In fact, the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America studied the issue and found that motorists have paid $27 billion in the last five years repairing cars damaged by potholes.

Most municipal and state governments rely on federal resources from the Highway Trust Fund to keep roads maintained. And the continuing failure of Congress to act on a long-term, full-investment Highway Bill that would strengthen the Highway Trust Fund has made it impossible to adequately maintain roads.

Never mind that one in four bridges in the U.S. are deficient or obsolete, or the fact that fixing our transportation infrastructure can invigorate our economy by creating hundreds of thousands of good union jobs.

If that’s not bad enough, surely our elected leaders can find the courage to act to save lives. Yet Congress is once again preparing a short-term patch that ignores the long-term needs of our country and sugarcoats the real cost of inaction. Congressional leaders say they need more time to find a solution and they promise to keep working on one.

We must hold them accountable to their word and continue to highlight that their failure to act means needlessly lost lives.

Send your message to Congress now >>