Infrastructure, Safety, and Potholes Make Miami Among Worst Cities for Drivers

On Behalf of | Oct 16, 2018 | News

Potholes may seem like only a minor nuisance for drivers. However, a recent study conducted by the American Automobile Association estimates that potholes are responsible for about $3 Billion worth of automobile damage per year across the country.  Worse still, potholes, along with poor road conditions in general, pose a significant safety hazard. Vehicles impacted by potholes are suddenly stopped, slowed down or redirected, leading to accidents. Accidents can also occur when drivers swerve to avoid potholes. A study conducted by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation concluded that about half of America’s 35,000 traffic deaths per year could be attributed to poor road conditions.

Florida Is Far From the Worst

Florida is generally fortunate when it comes to road conditions.


Figure 1: 2016 U.S. road conditions based on a U.S. News infrastructure ranking

One major source of potholes in many U.S. cities is wintertime freeze-thaw cycles. When water on roadways freezes and melts, it also expands and contracts, creating potholes. This never happens in Florida due to the warm climate.  However, there are other mechanisms by which road conditions deteriorate. Road conditions also depend on other factors, including the volume and type of vehicles on the roadway and how well they are maintained.

Miami Major Safety and Infrastructure Issues

When it comes to road conditions, not all places in Florida are equal. While the entire state enjoys the advantage of not having to deal with frequent freeze-thaw cycles, there are significant differences across the state when it comes to roadway traffic as well as road maintenance. There is evidence that drivers in the Miami-Dade County area do not enjoy the same high quality of road infrastructure that the rest of the state does.

In 2018, WalletHub studied the 100 largest cities in the U.S. to determine which ones were the best and worst to drive in. The study ranked these 100 cities with respect to multiple factors related to the driving experience.  Miami (74th overall) was near the bottom in three of the four main categories: Cost of Ownership & Maintenance (70), Traffic and Infrastructure (84), Safety (90th!!!). Despite its poor showing, it was ranked as the best city for Access to Vehicle and Maintenance. Jacksonville(9), Orlando(3), and Tampa(10) fared far better in nearly every category.

Miami’s Pothole Problem

We took some time to submit an FOIA request with the city if Miami for data related to where citizens report the existing of potholes. We were also able to obtain this information for Miami-Dade County.  We compiled the data into a heat map to help show the areas of the county where roads are in the worst shape. The map indicates certain neighborhoods within the Miami-Dade County where motorists can expect an exceptionally bumpy ride. The largest clusters of potholes are within the Miami city limits seem to be in Allapattah, Wynwood, Little Haiti and most of the downtown Maimi area.

When a pothole is reported to the City of Miami it takes an average of 10 days to close the ticket. Nearly 86% of pothole reports are made via phone.

Locations with the Most Potholes in Miami-Dade County

Heat map of potholes in Miami-Dade County based on data for the year 2017

Although the State of Florida enjoys some of the best road conditions in the country, this is not necessarily true of the Miami-Dade County area. Miami, as a city, fares fairly poorly when compared with other large U.S. cities with respect to roadway conditions, infrastructure, and safety. Potholes and poor road conditions, in general, continue to be a major hazard across the country. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that America’s highways and bridges currently need $836 Billion worth of maintenance and repairs. With automobile damage, collisions, and fatalities on the line, it is necessary for motorists to exercise caution in problem areas.

Motorists should be especially mindful while driving through two specific parts of Miami-Dade County. First is downtown, where potholes occur in the highest volume. Second are the unincorporated parts of the county, which are prone to locations with large numbers of potholes in one place. Each year, 35,000 motorists die on America’s highways and roads. Improvements in road conditions and drivers aware of areas where road conditions are prone to deterioration can help reduce that number.

Miami-Dade residents can report potholes online or over the phone by calling 3-1-1.



Mark Kaire has been practicing law in Miami for nearly 15 years. He is dedicated to helping the injured people of Miami receive compensation. Mr. Kaire has been blogging on Miami’s legal issues for 4 years.