Are you under the impression that free-market roads would be impossible, or at least impossibly complicated?
Then I have good news for you.
There are many possible ways for roads to be provided in a free society, even assuming unfettered technology wouldn’t make roads obsolete.
Business owners could voluntarily join forces to provide roads and bridges that service their area so that customers could reach them comfortably. Neighbors could band together voluntarily to service the roads they use to get where they need to go. Companies could spring up to provide roads for a fee on your car insurance, or in some similar way. There could be toll road companies that bill you monthly for your use of their roads.
You don’t think road use is currently free, do you?
You’ll still pay to use the road, but there will be accountability. The advantages of that should be obvious.
Privately owned roads had better be good, since the owner could be liable for any damage to your person or property due to poor maintenance or other road hazards like snow, ice, or tumbleweeds.
Restitution would be a powerful incentive.
Still, potholes happen.
Cars in a free society would probably be better at avoiding or dealing with problems than those we now drive. Perhaps they will automatically avoid that pothole to prevent the impact completely. If this fails and your car is damaged anyway, the road’s owner may be able to recover some portion of the restitution he pays you from the car’s manufacturer because of this malfunction.
Perhaps cars would immediately contact a database to report a road hazard, and its exact coordinates, so that other drivers (or their cars) could be alerted to avoid it, and repair crews could be dispatched.
If someone refuses to pay, either for use of the road or for damages from flawed maintenance, arbitration could be sought.
There could still be patrols to make sure no one is driving dangerously, but they would never have authority above any other individual, and would be held accountable if they violate your rights; they and their employer would be personally liable for any abuse or harm you suffered at their hands.
I can’t go into every possibility even I can think of in a column this short, and the solutions might be completely different, anyway. In a free society there wouldn’t be a “one-size-fits-all” way to provide roads. Anyone would be free to experiment and compete with roads he found inadequate in some way.
How might you do it, if you had the opportunity, without coercion?
Farwell’s Kent McManigal champions liberty. Contact him at: