Some 27% of major U.S. urban roads — interstates, freeways, and other arterial routes — are deemed substandard and provide an unacceptably rough ride for motorists, according to pothole.info, an organization committed to helping educate and represent stakeholders of our nation’s transportation corridors.
Potholes are not just a nuisance; they are a real hazard to all road users. While small potholes may only cause minor damage to a vehicle, larger ones can actually cause collisions and severe injuries to drivers, passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians.
In fact, research finds that of approximately 33,000 traffic fatalities each year, one-third involve poor road conditions.
The methods and materials used to build and maintain roads — including pothole repairs — are evolving and varied, experts report. What works in warmer climates is different from the four-season regions.
In northern climates, most wintertime pothole repairs are temporary, with permanent fixes happening in warmer, drier times of year, notes pothole.info. However, some types of asphalt can allow permanent repairs in cold, wet conditions.
There are also brand news solutions for road infrastructure that can help alleviate the pothole problem. For example, Integrated Roadways, a smart infrastructure technology provider, believes our roadways are due for an overhaul. The company says an estimated 55 million potholes afflict our nation’s roadways.
Integrated Roadways makes Smart Pavement precast concrete sections that are embedded with digital technology and fiber optic connectivity, and designed to be software-upgradeable. In terms of infrastructure, they last four times longer than traditional asphalt and the fact that they’re precast means they’re quicker and easier to replace — expediting pothole and road repair, according to the company.
Though several solutions exist, our roads won’t be fully repaired overnight. That means now is a good time to remind drivers how to avoid potholes or safely deal with the unexpected one. Here are five tips to share with your drivers:
Be tire smart. Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Underinflated tires may not have enough resistance to withstand the impact of hitting a pothole.
Go slow. If the road ahead is dotted by potholes, slow down so you can spot them and steer clear while also giving yourself more reaction time in the event you do hit one.
Leave a good amount of following distance. Tailgating kills your visibility of potholes directly ahead. In addition, it's smart to allow more space in case you or another driver nearby needs to suddenly swerve to avoid a pothole.
Don't slam on the brakes. Experts say it is best to brake before a pothole, but not in it. Doing so causes more damage because the front of your vehicle will nosedive and that grinds the front wheels into the pothole. The best practice is to simply slow down and coast over the pothole.
Keep a tight grip on the steering wheel. When driving over a pothole, make sure you have a firm grip on the steering wheel to avoid losing control of the vehicle.