Congress last week approved yet another short-term bandaid to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent. In case you haven't noticed, the nation's roads and bridges are kind of a hot mess. Congress is actively making the problem worse by failing to pass longer-term funding bills that would let states adequately budget out their highway spending.
American drivers ultimately bear the cost of congressional inaction, as poorly-maintained infrastructure puts greater wear and tear on vehicles and contributes to hundreds of dollars per driver per year in increased car maintenance costs. You can get a sense of what the view from the road looks like by poring over data from Waze, a navigation app that allows its millions of users to submit reports of potholes, construction, traffic jams, and other roadway hazards.
Simon Rogers of Google's News Lab took two years of Waze's road alert data and mapped it at the state level (Google acquired Waze in 2013). Check out an interactive version of it here -- you can click on your state to see how many Waze users are reporting various road hazards. I'll pull out a few of the interesting ones below.
4.6 percent of all Waze alerts are for accidents in Idaho, making that state the nation's #1 accident-prone, according to Waze users. Now, I have to dispute this because I've long maintained that Maryland's drivers are the worse and most accident-prone, and I've got some data to back me up. But Maryland comes in at #41 in Waze's accident rankings. I suspect it's because Maryland drivers are so busy getting into accidents that they don't have time to report them.
Where are Waze users reporting the most hazards? Wyoming, where 68 percent of Waze alerts are for some type of hazard on the road -- construction, animals, potholes, etc. The country roads of West Virginia come in at #2. New York drivers are the least likely to report road hazards.
Okay, I'm going to quibble with this one too. Waze reports that Vermont drivers are the most likely to file construction alerts, with 23 percent of all hazard reports being for roadwork. But have you had the misfortune of driving through Pennsylvania at any point in your life? I'm convinced that the perpetual roadwork on I-81 contributes something like 67 percent of the state's total economic activity. But I could be wrong, I guess.
Congrats, D.C.! You are the potholiest (non-)state in the Union, according to Waze drivers. Now of course D.C. is a city, not a state, so this comparison is slightly unfair. Among real states, Hawaii drivers are the most likely to complain about potholes, which makes me LOL -- do Hawaii drivers even know what potholes look like? Hawaii aside, northeastern drivers are generally more likely to report potholes than drivers elsewhere.
Cherish this one, kids -- it's one of the few state-level roadkill maps in existence. South Dakota is the nation's leading producer of roadkill, according to Waze drivers. Some states have laws on the books allowing drivers to harvest roadkill for food or fur.