Infrastructure isn't a sexy topic. When many people hear the word, their eyes glaze over and they begin thinking about to-do lists or vacation plans or anything other than the state of our highways and byways.
But ignore it all you want, the fact remains that America's infrastructure has been rode hard and put up wet. Now, there's a documentary on Amazon called Be Prepared to Stop that explains the impact our crumbling roads have on Average Joes and Janes.
If you keep up with auto news, you may already know about the wide range of problems caused by our country's iffy infrastructure. For example:
It costs car owners over $500 each year: That's not just due to car repairs necessitated by one too many dips in the neighborhood pothole. Poor roads and road repairs can force us to take alternate routes to get from Point A to Point B, which means we consume more fuel. All that damage and extra mileage can diminish our automobiles' resale values, too. And that $500 figure doesn't really take into account losses in productivity from being stuck in construction-zone traffic jams.
It makes driving here more dangerous than in Algeria, Kenya, and Romania: Measured against other countries, the U.S. fares especially poorly in terms of the quality of our roads and roadway fatalities--and if you think the two aren't linked, think again.
The situation isn't getting better: Much of the money needed to repair America's roads comes from the federal gas tax, a tax hasn't been increased since 1993. The growing number of cars and trucks on the road means more tax revenue, it's true, but it also means more wear and tear on our streets and interstates. Not surprisingly, tax revenue can't keep up. Roads and bridges can't be maintained, much less improved, and the situation is only going to get worse. (Communities are so cash-strapped now that some have opted to return to gravel roads.)
Be Prepared to Stop touches on those and other points, but it's especially focused on matters of safety. Plenty of screen time is given to big rigs and their drivers, which are key to the U.S. economy. In fact, they're responsible for moving about 70 percent of freight across the country. And with deliveries expected to grow by 40 percent over the next three decades, our dependency on 18-wheelers isn't about to go away.
As people who spend all day behind the wheel, big-rig drivers know all too well the problems caused by our nation's failing infrastructure. Bad roads, construction crews, and other hazards slow trucks' progress and hurt American businesses.
Semis also become much more dangerous when driving over cracks and potholes. It can become a major challenge for even experienced drivers to keep their large vehicles and heavily laden trailers upright and in the proper lane. When they fail at that challenge, they put their own lives at risk and those of surrounding motorists and pedestrians.
You can watch a trailer for Be Prepared to Stop above. If you feel so inclined, the producers of the documentary have provided an easy way for you to contact your legislators and encourage them for bills that improve America's roads and bridges. Given Donald Trump's campaign pledge to devote huge sums of money to infrastructure repair, now might be a great time to ask your elected officials to support those initiatives.