AutoInsurance.com
Published: February 3, 2022Last updated: October 19, 2022

The State of Potholes in the U.S.

In the Northeast, pothole damage affects 1 in every 5 drivers.

Potholes may not seem like a huge risk to your car, but in the United States, 15 percent of drivers need repairs due to potholes each year. Even if the pothole damage is from public roads, you can’t always get these repairs covered if you lack collision insurance. That means these holes in the road could be a big problem for you, especially during the colder times of year.

The most recent national data on pothole damage is from 2016. To find out about the state of potholes in 2022 and in the future following infrastructure improvements, we analyzed additional data from the White House, Congress, and the Federal Highway Administration. Here are our key findings:

  • In the U.S., an average of 15 percent of drivers have had vehicle damage that required pothole repair in the last five years.
  • Pothole damage is most common in the Northeast, where 1 in 5 drivers has had damage from potholes in the past five years.
  • Pothole damage costs U.S. drivers $3 billion a year, or an average of $306 per driver. More generally, highways in poor conditions cost drivers an average of $571 a year.
  • As per the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which passed in November 2021, the federal government is spending $1.57 million per mile to repair highways in poor condition, which includes potholes.
  • The state with the worst roads is Texas, which has 19,400 miles of highways in poor condition. As such, it is receiving the most federal aid for highway programs — $26.9 billion, compared with an average of $5.4 billion per state.

How Common Is Pothole Damage in the US

As of 2016, 15 percent of U.S. drivers had vehicle repairs due to pothole damage in the past five years. However, that number differs by region.

Region Percentage of U.S. drivers who experienced pothole damage requiring vehicle repairs from 2011 to 2016 How common pothole damage is in this region compared to the national average
Northeast 20% 24%
South 16% 5%
West 15% -2%
Midwest 10% -34%

The Northeast has the highest potholes per capita at 24 percent more than the national average. In the mid-Atlantic and New England states, 1 in 5 drivers had to get car repairs due to pothole damage.1 That amounts to nearly 22 million drivers. Across the country, that number rises to over 66 million drivers who have had repairs due to pothole damage.2

Average cost of pothole damage repair Percentage of U.S. drivers
$250 or less 64%
$250-$1,000 30%
$1,000 or more 6%

The cost of repairing pothole damage ranges from $250 to $1,000, with an annual total cost of $3 billion and an average repair cost just over $300.

Number of Pothole Claims Per Year

With over 238 million licensed drivers in the U.S. in 2016, assuming one repair for each pothole damage claim, that means there were over 34 million pothole damage claims per year. That’s over 93,978 claims related to pothole damage per day, for those who have pothole coverage under collision insurance.

Infrastructure for Potholes in the U.S.

On Nov. 15, 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed and became law in a bipartisan victory.3 Part of the act focuses on improving highways in poor condition, which includes potholes. Overall, the federal government is spending $273.8 billion to fix these highways.

State Average annual cost to drivers for driving on roads in poor condition Miles of highway in poor condition Amount expected for federal-aid highway apportioned programs Amount expected for federal-aid highway apportioned programs by number of miles of highways in poor condition
Alabama $434 2,950 $5,200,000,000 $1,762,712
Alaska $402 570 $4,400,000,000 $7,719,298
Arizona $614 3,100 $5,000,000,000 $1,612,903
Arkansas $671 6,700 $3,600,000,000 $537,313
California $799 14,220 $25,300,000,000 $1,779,184
Colorado $651 3,600 $3,700,000,000 $1,027,778
Connecticut $711 2,100 $3,500,000,000 $1,666,667
Delaware $456 250 $1,200,000,000 $4,800,000
District of Columbia $1,100 402 $1,100,000,000 $2,736,318
Florida $425 $3,564 $13,100,000,000 $3,675,645
Georgia $375 2,260 $8,900,000,000 $3,938,053
Hawaii $818 664 $1,200,000,000 $1,807,229
Idaho $394 1,102 $2,000,000,000 $1,814,882
Illinois $609 6,218 $9,800,000,000 $1,576,069
Indiana $638 5,478 $6,600,000,000 $1,204,819
Iowa $336 403 $3,400,000,000 $8,436,725
Kansas $509 1,995 $2,600,000,000 $1,303,258
Kentucky $444 1,322 $4,600,000,000 $3,479,576
Louisiana $667 3,411 $4,800,000,000 $1,407,212
Maine $543 1,438 $1,300,000,000 $904,033
Maryland $637 2,201 $4,100,000,000 $1,862,790
Massachusetts $620 1,194 $4,200,000,000 $3,517,588
Michigan $644 7,300 $7,300,000,000 $1,000,000
Minnesota $543 $4,986 $4,500,000,000 $902,527
Mississippi $637 5,840 $3,300,000,000 $565,068
Missouri $743 7,576 $6,500,000,000 $857,973
Montana $472 1,485 $2,800,000,000 $1,885,522
Nebraska $461 1,125 $2,000,000,000 $1,777,778
Nevada $558 1,090 $2,500,000,000 $2,293,578
New Hampshire $476 698 $1,100,000,000 $1,575,931
New Jersey $713 3,995 $6,800,000,000 $1,702,128
New Mexico $767 3,822 $2,500,000,000 $654,108
New York $625 7,292 $11,600,000,000 $1,590,784
North Carolina $500 3,116 $7,200,000,000 $2,310,655
North Dakota $410 830 $1,700,000,000 $2,048,193
Ohio $506 4,925 $9,200,000,000 $1,868,020
Oklahoma $394 1,004 $4,300,000,000 $4,282,869
Oregon $256 1,287 $3,400,000,000 $2,641,803
Pennsylvania $620 7,540 $11,300,000,000 $1,498,674
Rhode Island $845 860 $1,500,000,000 $1,744,186
South Carolina $625 7,292 $4,600,000,000 $630,828
South Dakota $562 2,013 $1,900,000,000 $943,865
Tennessee $209 270 $5,800,000,000 $21,481,481
Texas $709 19,400 $26,900,000,000 $1,386,598
Utah $709 2,064 $2,400,000,000 $1,162,791
Vermont $517 666 $1,400,000,000 $2,102,102
Virginia $517 2,124 $7,000,000,000 $3,295,669
Washington $659 5,469 $4,700,000,000 $859,389
West Virginia $726 3,200 $3,000,000,000 $937,500
Wisconsin $547 1,949 $5,200,000,000 $2,668,035
Wyoming $295 380 $1,800,000,000 $4,736,8424

On average, the federal government will spend $1.57 million to repair every mile of highway in poor condition. Based on the data from the White House, there are no underserved states; the more miles of highway in poor condition, the more funds allocated to a state.

Here are some other interesting findings regarding the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act:

  • There are 174,740 miles of highway in poor condition in the U.S., an average of 3,426 per state.
  • Under the new infrastructure bill, the federal government is spending an average of $5.4 billion per state to repair these damages.
  • The state with the highest number of highways in poor condition is Texas, which has 19,400 miles of highway in poor condition. As such, it is receiving the most federal aid for highway programs, $26.9 billion. That’s 80 percent higher than the national average.
  • On average, drivers pay $571 a year for driving on roads in poor condition. Washington, D.C., has the highest cost at $1,100 a year, followed by Rhode Island at $845 a year — 48 and 32 percent higher than the national average respectively.

Does the Government Pay for Pothole Damage?

If you get pothole damage from driving on public roads, can you sue the government for the cost of your repairs under a subrogation claim? The answer depends on where the damage occurred.

Does the Government Pay for Pothole Damage

Not all states let residents sue the state or state employees. Some states, like California, will only reimburse you for your property damage, not your bodily injuries. Find out if you can sue your state government for pothole damage in the chart below.

State Can you sue the state for pothole damage? Notice deadline after date of pothole damage Damage caps
Alabama No N/A None
Alaska Yes 2 years $400,000
Arizona No N/A None
Arkansas No N/A None
California Yes, but only for property damage, not injuries 6 months None
Colorado Yes, but only for property damage, not injuries 6 months $350,000 per person

$900,000 per occurrence

Connecticut No N/A N/A
Delaware Yes, but only if the action was done in bad faith or with gross negligence None None
District of Columbia Yes 6 months None
Florida Yes, if you can prove negligence or wrongful action 3 years $200,000 per person

$300,000 per incident

Georgia Yes 1 year $1 million
Hawaii Yes 2 years $375,000
Idaho Yes 6 months $500,000
Illinois Yes 2 years $100,000
Indiana Yes 9 months $700,000 for a single person

$5 million for a single occurrence

Iowa Yes, if you can prove negligence and willful or malicious conduct 2 years None
Kansas Yes, if you can prove negligence 4 months $500,000
Kentucky Yes 1 year $200,000 for a single claim

$350,000 for multiple claims

$200,000 for a single person

Louisiana Yes 1 year $500,000 per person for personal injury or wrongful death
Maine No N/A N/A
Maryland Yes 1 year $40,000 to a single person for injuries
Massachusetts Yes, if you can prove negligence or wrongful acts 2 years $100,000
Michigan No N/A N/A
Minnesota No, even if damage is due to employee negligence N/A N/A
Mississippi Yes, except for acts of omission 3 months $500,000
Missouri Yes 2 years $300,000 per person

$2 million per occurrence

Montana Yes 4 months $750,000 per claim

$1.5 million per occurrence

Nebraska Yes 2 years None
Nevada Yes 2 years $100,000
New Hampshire Yes 3 years $475,000 per person

$3.75 million per incident

New Jersey Yes 90 days No subrogation allowed unless there is permanent loss of a bodily function, permanent disfigurement, or dismemberment with medical expenses over $3,600
New Mexico Yes, if you can prove negligence 90 days $300,000 for property damage

$300,000 for medical expenses

$400,000 for all other damages

$750,000 of total liability for a single occurrence

New York Yes 90 days None
North Carolina Yes 3 years $1 million minus state’s commercial liability insurance
North Dakota Yes 3 years $250,000 per person

$1 million per occurrence

Ohio Yes 2 years No subrogation claims
Oklahoma Yes 1 year $25,000 for property claims

$175,000 per person for other losses

$1 million per occurrence for other losses

Oregon Yes 2 years $2,073,600 per person for personal injury claims

$4,147,000 per occurrence for personal injury claims

$113,400 per person for property damage claims

$566,900 per occurrence for property damage claims

Pennsylvania Yes 6 months $250,000 per person

$1 million per occurrence

Can only recover lost income, pain, suffering, medical expenses, property losses, and loss of consortium

Rhode Island Yes 3 years $100,000
South Carolina Yes 2 years $300,000 per person

$600,000 per occurrence

South Dakota Yes 6 months None
Tennessee Yes 3 years for property damage
1 year for personal injury
$300,000 for bodily injury or death of 1 person

$700,000 for bodily injury or death in 1 accident

Texas Yes 6 months $250,000 per person for bodily injury or death

$500,000 for a single occurrence of bodily injury or death

$100,000 for a single occurrence of property damage

Utah No N/A N/A
Vermont Yes 20 days for a bridge or culvert

3 years for personal injury and property claims

18 months for small claims ($2,000 or less)

$500,000 per person

$2 million for a single occurrence

Virginia Yes 1 year $100,000 or the amount of the state’s insurance coverage, whichever is greater
Washington Yes 3 years None
West Virginia No N/A N/A
Wisconsin Yes 4 months $50,000 for claims against municipal entities and employees

$250,00 for claims against the state and its employees or negligent operation of any municipal entity

Wyoming No N/A N/A5

Even if you can sue the government for pothole damage, you’ll still want to file a claim with your own insurance provider or pay for the repairs out of pocket. Even if your subrogation claim is approved, reimbursement will take a while and usually isn’t worth it for minor damage.6

Also, you’d have to prove that the government failed to maintain the road safely and reasonably — negligence, in other words. In this context, negligence means that the government knew or should have known about the road conditions and did not repair them in a reasonable amount of time.7 Again, the more efficient and cost-effective method is to get reimbursed for the pothole damage under collision coverage.

Potholes and Insurance

Collision insurance isn’t a minimum car insurance requirement in any state. It’s supplemental coverage that’s typically bundled with comprehensive coverage, which covers events other than collisions, such as natural disasters. Collision and comprehensive coverage are part of full coverage, which also includes liability coverage.

Potholes and Insurance

Although collision coverage includes pothole coverage, it won’t cover the normal wear and tear of a car due to bad road conditions. It needs to be a specific incident of colliding with a pothole.

If you hit a pothole and your car is damaged, will filing a claim make your rates increase? Unfortunately, according to our car insurance research, the answer is yes. Hitting a pothole is a single-vehicle accident, so car insurance companies consider it your fault.

The only exception is when you hit a pothole because another car hit you. So yes, most of the time, pothole damage claims will increase your auto insurance costs.

Recap

Pothole damage is extremely common in the U.S., particularly the colder regions, and can be costly. Learn how we conducted our research below.

Methodology

Our research was based on third-party sources from the following organizations, companies, and government agencies:

  • AAA
  • Federal Highway Administration
  • Matthiesen, Wickert & Lehrer
  • Nolo
  • Progressive
  • White House

Citations

  1. Fact Sheet: Pothole Damage. AAA Automotive Engineering. (2016).
    http://publicaffairsresources.aaa.biz/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Pothole-Fact-Sheet.pdf

  2. Highway Statistics 2016. U.S. Department of Transportation. (2017, Sep).
    https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2016/dl20.cfm

  3. H.R.3684 – Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Congress.gov. (2021, Nov 15).
    https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/3684/text

  4. White House Releases Updated State Fact Sheets Highlighting the Impact of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Nationwide. The White House. (2021, Aug 4).
    https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/08/04/white-house-releases-state-fact-sheets-highlighting-the-impact-of-the-infrastructure-investment-and-jobs-act-nationwide/

  5. State Sovereign Immunity and Tort Liability in All 50 States. Matthiesen, Wicket & Lehrer, S.C. Attorneys at Law. (2022, Jan 13).
    https://www.mwl-law.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/STATE-SOVEREIGN-IMMUNITY-AND-TORT-LIABILITY-CHART.pdf

  6. Is pothole damage covered by car insurance? Progressive. (2022).
    https://www.progressive.com/answers/does-car-insurance-cover-pothole-damage/

  7. Vehicle Damage Due To Poor Road Conditions: Who Is Liable? Nolo. (2022).
    https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/vehicle-damage-due-to-poor-road-conditions-who-is-liable.html