New Data Reveals The Worst Roads in United States for Drivers and Passengers

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National survey from ClearMotion identifies the worst roads in six major U.S. cities and their impact on the driver and passenger experience.

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New national data from ClearMotion, a global automotive technology company commercializing the world’s first proactive ride system, reveals the worst roads in six major cities across the United States. The data identifies the key factors that both drivers and passengers feel contribute to a bad road, and how these factors degrade their in-car experiences. More importantly, they indicate what people expect while riding in cars in the future.

The survey polled more than 1,170 licensed drivers in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, and Los Angeles. Participants reported congested roads and deteriorating infrastructure as major pain points. 72% of respondents agree that mass adoption of autonomous vehicles will make ride quality more important, highlighting the overwhelming need for improving the in-car experience across the United States.

“The introduction of autonomous vehicles is causing the automotive industry to undergo massive changes, as automakers realize the inherent difference between cars designed for the driver and those designed for the passenger,” said Shakeel Avadhany, co-founder and CEO of ClearMotion. “The challenge will be to figure out how to merge the cockpit and cabin into one, and realize the promise of improved in-car productivity and comfort in self-driving vehicles. The quality of today’s roads is hindering the in-car experience, and for automakers, adapting to the needs and expectations of riders will be what sets them apart in the future.”

Factors Driving Frustration
Today, for drivers and passengers alike, road quality impacts the in-car experience. With 54% of people driving more than five hours per week, and 32% exclusively on urban roads, a majority of drivers and passengers are burdened by cities’ poor roads.

Specifically, 51% of respondents cited poor road conditions—potholes, aging or deteriorating infrastructure, or coarse road surfaces—as the primary contributing factor to bad roads in their respective cities.

Improving the In-Car Experience
Of the respondents who cited poor road conditions as their top complaints, 88% overwhelmingly agreed that road quality negatively impacts their driving experience and 82% said that it degraded their passenger experience. However, according to the study, drivers and passengers respond very differently to the poor road conditions during their commute:

  • 82% of drivers reported making a significant change to improve their commute, while only 30% of passengers have done anything to improve theirs.
  • Changes included driving between 5 and 15 minutes out of their way (73% of drivers), compared to 60% of passengers; and changing the time of day to commute (31% of drivers), compared to 27% of passengers.
  • On the other hand, passengers are more prone to switching to public transportation to avoid their worst road choice, with 16% of passenger respondents having made the switch, compared to only 6% of drivers.

The Future of Riding in Cars
As autonomous vehicle research accelerates and the availability of autonomous vehicles grows nearer, respondents’ expectations become more focused on the quality of ride time. In these AVs, they expect to multi-task (74%), enjoy in-car entertainment (70%), and are concerned with motion sickness (40%). The auto industry’s success in meeting these expectations will greatly affect the adoption of these vehicles, increase riders’ productivity, and improve the riding experience.

Desire for improved In-car experiences include:

  • Working: 57% drivers, 65% passengers
  • Reading: 53% drivers, 67% passengers
  • Typing: 52% drivers, 60% passengers
  • Eating: 56% drivers, 61% passengers
  • Drinking non-alcoholic beverages: 63% drivers, 65% passengers
  • Sleeping and relaxing: 67% drivers, 76% passengers

The Worst Roads
Respondents in Boston and Dallas largely agreed on their respective city’s worst roads. In Boston, 37% of both drivers and passengers identified Massachusetts Avenue, while in Dallas, 36% of both drivers and passengers singled out I-35.

However, drivers and riders within the metro areas of Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, and Detroit differed when asked to identify the worst roads:

  • Atlanta: 35% of drivers reported both I-85 and I-285 as the worst, while 34% of passengers chose I-85 and 29% chose I-285.
  • Chicago: Similarly, 29% of both drivers and passengers identified the Dan Ryan Expressway as the worst road. However, I-94 was a close second, with 27% of drivers identifying the road, and 24% of passengers.
  • Detroit: While 30% of drivers reported Hall Road as the worst road, passengers cited an even split between Haggerty Road (26%) and Mound Road (26%) as the worst roads to ride on.
  • Los Angeles: For both drivers and passengers in Los Angeles, I-405 is cited as the worst road to ride or drive on, with 35% and 28% respectively.

For automakers, improving the quality of ride time will be vital in this upcoming transformation to autonomous technology. Only those manufacturers that implement vehicle technology that can adapt to our flawed roads and ever-changing driving conditions will successfully achieve the autonomous promises of productivity, relaxation, and comfort that passengers expect

About ClearMotion
ClearMotion’s road-sensing technology is enabling the next-generation user experience for cars. A venture-backed automotive technology company, ClearMotion’s breakthrough proactive ride system combines software and hardware to mitigate vehicle movement across any type of terrain. ClearMotion was founded out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, with additional offices in Silicon Valley and Birmingham, UK. For more information, visit

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Kim Karelis
Kickstand Communications
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