ONCE UPON A TIME, America’s highway system was a source of national pride. These days there’s not much pride to go around. Yes, there are some truly nice, magic-carpet-smooth highways out there, but not enough to balance out the remaining 2.9 million miles of paved public roads in the US. I’ve driven roads with paving so bad that I took to the shoulder for some relief, or took the long way there on a dirt road that was in better shape. Then there are the decaying bridges and overpasses. I try not to think about those.

A mix of age, hostile weather, high use, budgetary issues, competing priorities, and power struggles got us into this mess. And a road system that was built over a couple of centuries or more isn’t going to be repaired all at once, overnight. So whenever I finish grumbling about being held up by roadwork, I remind myself I’m thankful they’re fixing something.

We nomads live on the road. Bad ones are not only annoying to drive on, they’re also hard on our rolling homes, which is hard on our limited budgets. There’s also a correlation between bad roads and traffic accidents — which are even harder on our budgets. And on our wellbeing.

Where are the worst roads, so I can avoid them?

In 2021 the American Society of Civil Engineers evaluated our highway system and produced the Infrastructure Report Card. The grades were not good, with the best grade being a B+ (thumbs up, North Dakota) and an overall grade of D+.

Some of the ratings were predictable. States with the oldest roads (because they have been settled longer), those with the harshest weather, those with higher populations and traffic, poorer states, and/or those that haven’t been fans of public spending tended toward the bottom. But it wasn’t true in every case.

What about Canada?

The Canadian Council of Ministers of Transportation publishes an annual report using a five-point scale, with 1 being the best and 5 being the worst. The 2022 report found that the average condition of Canadian roads was 2.9.

The provinces with the best roads are Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. The provinces with the worst roads are Quebec, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.

Does this information affect your travel plans?

Of course, not every road in the low ranking states is bad, and not every road in the higher ranking states is good. But the ASCE grades offer a clue about the averages.

Personally, there are places I want to travel to regardless of road conditions. The crumbling pavement and traffic delays are absolutely worth it. And there are places I have zero interest in visiting, no matter how wonderful their highways and byways might be. I’m more the type who checks the maps for alternate routes, and who remembers from past experiences. “Oh yeah, this is where I take the detour.” (Which, now that I think of it, is how I’ve traveled my road of life.)