SACRAMENTO, CA --- After years of neglect, more than a quarter of California's highway miles are in poor condition and 18 percent are in need of major repair, according to the California Department of Transportation. 

That's why Caltrans and the University of California's Pavement Research Center in Davis, Calif., are launching a new strategy, the Sacramento Bee reported. Beginning later this year, vans equipped with cameras, lasers and ground-penetrating radar will drive across the state's highways and catalog cracks and bumps. The database will help target the most urgent road problems that need repair. 

"If we can pick our projects based on that engineering data, then we do the right project at the right time," Michael Miles, Caltrans deputy director for maintenance and operations, told the Sacramento Bee. The goal, he said, is to "predict when the pavement is failing. That way, [highways] won't get to the condition where they need a full rehab. Once they get there, it becomes very, very expensive." 

About 90 percent of the California's major highways were built between 1955 and 1975. Most were designed to last about 20 years.