A new study by AAA has revealed a rather interesting factoid – apparently, there's a large number of Americans that wouldn't mind shelling out a bit more coin for a bit better roads. Yeah, we're pretty surprised too.
The gas tax and diesel taxes haven't been increased since 1993.
According to the transportation group, over two-thirds of Americans think Uncle Sam should beef up his funding for transportation projects, while just over half of the 2,013 randomly surveyed people around the country would support a bump in the gas tax. Perhaps more telling for our elected officials is this: 51 percent of the people surveyed would be more open to voting for a candidate that supported an increase in road funding. Only 19 percent of people would be less likely to vote for a candidate that campaigns on the basis of improving American roads.
"Many of us are willing to pay a little more if it means we will have access to better roads, bridges and transit systems," said AAA's president and CEO, Bob Darbelnet. "It is time for our nation's leaders to stand with those in Congress who support improving our country's transportation system."
Why the urgency on AAA's part? Well, aside from the post-apocalyptic state of American roads, the Highway Trust Fund is set to run dry by August. The Highway Trust relies on the 18.3-cent-per-gallon gas tax and the 24.4-cent-per-gallon diesel tax, neither of which have been increased since 1993, when cars were significantly less efficient.
According to AAA, if the fund were to run dry, road work across the country would be delayed, which would be a particularly troubling notion if next winter is as bad as the previous one. As for how it justifies a hike in the gas tax, AAA claims better roads would will help reduce the $324 average that consumers pay in road-related vehicle repairs.
"Americans are fed up with record-long commutes, unsafe highways and never-ending potholes," – Bob Darbelnet
"Americans are fed up with record-long commutes, unsafe highways and never-ending potholes caused by political inaction," said Darbelnet. "Congress must prevent severe maintenance delays during the height of the summer driving season by preventing a Highway Trust Fund bankruptcy in August."
Take a look below for the press release from AAA, which includes a breakdown of the survey's methodology, as well as a listing and response rate for each of the survey's five questions, but not before you take part in our own unofficial poll on the gas tax.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 10, 2014) – Two-thirds of Americans (68 percent) believe the federal government should invest more than it does now on roads, bridges and mass transit systems, according to a new AAA omnibus survey of 2,013 adults. Only five percent of respondents believe the federal government should spend less on transportation. These results come as AAA urges members of Congress to increase the fuel tax, which will address significant transportation safety and congestion issues nationwide.
· About half of Americans (52 percent) are willing to pay higher fuel taxes per month on average for better roads, bridges and mass transit systems.
· Nearly three times as many people (51 percent) are more likely to vote for a member of Congress who supports increased federal spending on transportation than would be less likely (19 percent).
· Approximately two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) agree that taxes on gasoline and diesel consumption are appropriate for transportation funding.
· More people believe that roads, bridges and transit systems have declined in quality over the previous three years (43 percent) than those who believe the quality has improved (32 percent).
"Americans are fed up with record-long commutes, unsafe highways and never-ending potholes caused by political inaction," said Bob Darbelnet, AAA President and CEO. "Congress must prevent severe maintenance delays during the height of the summer driving season by preventing a Highway Trust Fund bankruptcy in August."
AAA supports a federal gas tax increase, provided the funds go towards projects that ease congestion and improve safety. The gas tax is the most efficient and fair method available to pay for transportation maintenance and improvements in the near term. An increase in fuel taxes, spent wisely, should help reduce the estimated $324 per year in additional vehicle repairs and operating costs that the average driver currently spends due to poor road conditions.
The Department of Transportation expects the federal Highway Trust Fund will run out of money this summer without Congressional action, which would delay transportation maintenance and improvement projects nationwide.
"Many of us are willing to pay a little more if it means we will have access to better roads, bridges and transit systems," continued Darbelnet. "It is time for our nation's leaders to stand with those in Congress who support improving our country's transportation system."
The federal Highway Trust Fund is supported by the 18.4 cents per gallon gas tax and 24.4 cents per gallon tax on diesel. Congress has not raised this tax since 1993. Due to inflation and increased fuel economy, the purchasing power of the current tax has been cut nearly in half.
Survey Questions and Results
1. Do you believe the quality of roads, bridges and mass transit systems you regularly use have significantly improved; improved; neither improved nor declined; declined; or significantly declined in the past three years?
Significantly improved 4%
Neither improved nor declined 23%
Significantly declined 16%
2. Do you think the federal government should invest more, less or the same as it does now for roads, bridges and mass transit systems?
The Same 24%
3. On average, U.S. drivers contribute about eight dollars per month in federal fuel taxes towards the nation's roads, bridges and mass transit systems. How much more, if any, would you be willing to pay on a monthly basis for roads, bridges and mass transit systems?
Not willing to pay more 41%
Willing to pay more (net) 52%:
$10 or more 21%
4. If your Congressional representative were to support increased federal spending for U.S. roads, bridges and mass transit systems, would you be significantly more likely; somewhat more likely; neither more nor less likely; somewhat less likely; or significantly less likely to vote for them in the next election?
Significantly more likely 17%
Somewhat more likely 34%
Neither more nor less likely 27%
Somewhat less likely 9%
Significantly less likely 10%
5. Federal funding for roads, bridges and mass transit systems comes primarily from taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel consumption. Do you think this is an appropriate way to raise funds for this transportation investment?
AAA conducted a telephone survey among two national probability samples (landline only and cell phone), consisting of a combined total of 2,013 adults (1,009 men and 1,004 women), 18 years of age and older and living in the continental United States. Interviewing for this survey was conducted with two waves taking place on May 1-4 and May 8-11, 2014. This study has an average statistical error of 2.7 percent at the 95 percent confidence level for all US adult motorists.
As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.