“I just spent $2,000 to repair damage caused by a NY pothole, the same as I did last year and the year before!” These words, spoken by a major TV news anchor, are much like comments heard all across America. This person, however, went on to say the money must somehow be found to fix these potholes. While drivers of cars and riders of motorcycles and bicycles are lamenting the terrible condition of our roads, very few of them realize the money to make pothole repairs already exists. What is lacking is the motivation on the part of responsible agencies to make pothole repairs a priority.
A recent research project in Arizona prompted by a motorcyclist who sustained $800 damage in one of a multitude of local potholes uncovered the secret to solving the pothole problem. He discovered that the responsible agencies will only accept liability for damage or injury if the pothole was reported prior to the incident/accident. “His” pothole had been allowed to increase in size for many months while government employees drove over and passed it numerous times each day. Many potholes go unrepaired as long as the public fails to report them. The agency’s liability for damage and injury is apparently only established if the pothole isn’t repaired in a “reasonable” amount of time following its report by a member of the public.
The Key to Fixing Our Roads
The Arizona research project was launched to see what actually happens when the public files a report. Focusing only on the more serious potholes that presented a real hazard for motorcycles, 21 pothole reports were filed over a three week period. Located in both the city and the county, the quickest repairs occurred within 24 hours while the longest took 3 days. These reports were filed via city and county online reporting systems and included the words “especially hazardous for motorcycles.” Keep in mind, the potholes most hazardous for motorcyclists are also the ones likely to cause damage to automobiles and bicycles. It is also reasonable to assume the agencies are more concerned about their liability for injury to cyclists than mechanical damage to cars. Once reported, they MUST make them a priority to avoid the liability created by the report. So, the ultimate responsibility rests with us. Without our reports pothole repairs can be deferred in favor of other projects on which the agencies prefer to spend our resources.
Pothole Reporting in 2 Minutes or Less!
The ease with which potholes in your area can be reported will likely surprise you. Of the 21 reports filed during our project none of them took more than 2 minutes. Virtually every jurisdiction across the country has a system in place by which the public may file these reports. Whether reported online or by phone, your reports will motivate the appropriate agencies to accomplish the repair of these roadway hazards.
To identify the process in your area do a search for pothole reporting in ______________, inserting your city, county or state, depending on the location of the pothole. Some areas have a 311 number just for pothole reports. Some areas have online systems as does much of Arizona while others accept reports by phone call to the department of public works, streets or highway.
This is one case where we the people have the power to make a difference and accomplish much needed improvement of our roads. We can continue to moan about the problem while the agencies complain they need more money or we can motivate them to get to work on our streets. It really is up to us. Thank you for joining us by doing your part!