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News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact:  Daisy Singh, daisysingh@highways.org, 202-857-1200

Poorly Prepared States Faced Exorbitant Economic Costs Due to Unsafe, Closed Winter Roads

(WASHINGTON, DC) – As the nation faces record cold temperatures and serious snow and ice storms this season, the American Highway Users Alliance (Highway Users) is re-releasing its IHS Global Insight “Economic Costs of Snowstorms” study, originally developed in response to the February 2010 nationwide “Snowmaggedon” blizzard.  The study is available as a resource to estimate the economic costs of major storms and illustrates the value of effective, timely winter road maintenance, beyond vehicle crashes and other safety impacts.  The study focused on the traditional snow-belt states, but the data may be used to develop rough ballpark estimates of the costs of snowstorms that paralyzed southern states earlier in the year.

“In light of the extreme winter weather that has battered much of the country, it is critical that local and state governments properly plan for snow removal efforts,” said Highway Users President Greg Cohen.  “Failure to treat roads and bridges for inclement weather can result in paralyzing congestion, as Atlanta and much of the Southeast experienced.  Recent ice storms ground traffic to a halt and stranded thousands of children in schools and buses.  Snow storms have reached southern states more frequently in recent years and these crises can be avoided by developing robust emergency plans for equipment, salt, and manpower.”

The Highway Users study found that a one-day crippling snowstorm in larger, more productive states exceeds $300 million.  Hourly workers, many of whom live paycheck-to-paycheck, are impacted the most.  The exact cost varies with the size of each state and its economic output.  New York State topped the list, where a massive nor’easter can cost as much as $700 million in direct and indirect costs per day.

Federal Highway Administration data reveals that in a typical year more than 116,000 people are injured and over 1,300 are killed on America’s highways due to snowy, slushy, or icy pavement. A comprehensive safety study by Marquette University found that deicing pays for itself a mere 25 minutes after salt is applied and direct road users’ benefits are $6.50 for every $1.00 spent on maintenance costs.  And most recently, a University of Waterloo before-and-after winter roads study found a 93% reduction in accidents on four-lane roads once roads are treated.

“The relentless cold weather and back-to-back snow storms should serve as a wake-up call to public officials to take snow preparedness seriously. A quick and effective response to winter storms saves lives and money,” Cohen concluded.

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The American Highway Users Alliance represents motorists, RV enthusiasts, truckers, bus companies, motorcyclists, and a broad cross-section of businesses that depend on safe and efficient highways to transport their families, customers, employees, and products. Highway Users members pay the taxes that finance the federal highway program and advocate public policies that dedicate those taxes to improved highway safety and mobility.

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