Drive carefully. You never know what is around the next bend. Traversing the byways of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Are You Satisfied With The Condition Of Highways You Travel?

Are you satisfied with the condition of the roads and highways you travel?

Rhode Island (31 percent) and Michigan (35 percent) residents are less likely to be satisfied with the roads and highways where they live than are residents in any other state, according to a Gallup news release. North Dakota has the highest satisfaction at 81 percent, followed closely by Wyoming, Utah, and Kansas.

Driving Sidney Lanier Bridge near Brunswick and the Georgia Golden Isles. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Driving Sidney Lanier Bridge near Brunswick and the Georgia Golden Isles. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The results are based on Gallup’s 2015 50-State poll, which consists of interviews with at least 500 residents in each state.

States vary widely in the amount they spend on road construction and maintenance, and how they raise that revenue. There is a modest positive correlation between state spending on roads per capita and residents’ satisfaction with roads — states that spend more tend to have higher satisfaction, according to the survey.

The 10 states spending the most per capita on roads average 67 percent satisfaction, compared with 61 percent satisfaction among the 10 states spending the least per capita on roads. The middle 30 states average 60 percent satisfaction.

North Dakota, Wyoming, and Utah rank among the top-spending states on roads and, along with Kansas, are the states where residents are most satisfied. Michigan spent the least per capita on roads, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, with Rhode Island ranking in the bottom third of states.

Rhode Island and Michigan have consistently ranked among the states with the worst-quality roads, based on studies of road conditions from government agencies and independent research organizations, according to Gallup.

Camping at Cajun Palms RV Resort near Breaux Bridge. If you have not driven I-10 across Louisiana in recent years then you're in for a pleasant surprise. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping at Cajun Palms RV Resort near Breaux Bridge. If you have not driven I-10 across Louisiana in recent years then you’re in for a pleasant surprise. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Michigan voters named roads as the most important problem facing the state in a 2014 poll. State political leaders there have struggled to find a way to increase spending on roads. The governor

and state lawmakers agreed on a deal in late 2014 that asked voters to approve an increase in state sales and gasoline taxes to help pay for road improvements, among other things, but voters overwhelmingly rejected that ballot proposal.

Last fall, the governor and legislature finally agreed on legislation to raise the gas tax and increase vehicle registration fees to raise revenues to fix the roads.

Many of the states with above-average resident satisfaction with local roads and highways are in the Upper Midwest and Upper West regions of the country.

The report raises a series of questions and issues?

What is the relationship between driver satisfaction and the gas tax by state? Is all the revenue generated from the gas tax used for road improvement?

The new Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge spans the Colorado River and casts a huge shadow over Hoover Dam. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The new Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge spans the Colorado River and casts a huge shadow over Hoover Dam. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is the driving pattern of the residents interviewed? Primarily in the local community where they live or throughout the state? In large urban areas or smaller cities and towns? On interstates or local highways and byways?

What are the standards that the interviewees used to base their opinion and does it vary from state to state? Previous condition of roads that they drive? Comparison with driving experience in other states?

Residents who drive the local roads on a daily basis are in the best position to have an opinion on the quality and satisfaction of these roads. However, for comparison of road conditions between states this RVer can’t help but wonder if the results would have greater application by interviewing those drivers who travel America’s highways in a number of states? Would the results be the same by asking long distance truckers and RVers including snowbirds and full timers?

As a snowbird that has driven Interstates, highways, and byways in most states during the past decade, my perception of the states with the best and worst roads do not correlate with the findings of the Gallup report.

California Interstates are anything but average as the report indicates. While I-5 in Northern California is in very good driving condition, I-5 and Highway US-99 in Central and Southern California are in deplorable condition, as in shake, rattle, and roll!

Traversing the byways of Lancaster County in Pennsylvania and sharing the road with Amish buggies. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Traversing the byways of Lancaster County in Pennsylvania and sharing the road with Amish buggies. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While road conditions will vary from good to not so good in every state depending where you travel, it has been my experience that most highways and byways of Montana, New Mexico, and Texas are a piece of cake.

Worth Pondering…
Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey.

—Fitzhugh Mullan

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