The storms of this winter season have been particularly brutal across the country. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), since late October 2012, tornadoes have occurred in 42 states, temperatures went from well below freezing to record warmth, torrential rain caused much damage and unprecedented hurricane activity and blizzards put much of the country at a standstill for extended periods. The damage that sustained bad weather causes to the nation’s roadways can also create dangerous driving conditions for everyone on the road because the poor road conditions remain long after the winter turns to spring and
The Roads To Ruin
Winter weather causes road conditions to deteriorate even further from the often sorry state they were in before the harsh weather began. With all the additional damage, it will take some time for each budget-challenged state and federal agency to correct all of the problems. According to a study by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) which represents transportation departments in all 50 states, the most trouble with poor road conditions is coming from “killer” potholes. Not only can a deep pothole cause suspension, alignment, tire and even body damage, it can also cause a driver to lose control of his/her vehicle. And, according to a study by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the problems of driving on America’s highways are compounded by the fact that less than half of the nation’s major roads are in good condition, and more than 30% are in poor or mediocre condition.
Age, weather, traffic, moisture, heavy vehicles and delayed maintenance are causing road conditions to decline at an alarming rate. Newly formed cracks, ruts, potholes and foundation deterioration are common in late winter/early spring. These conditions often cause gravel, stones and other debris to accumulate, increasing the chances of cracked windshields and body damage from flying rubble. FHWA data shows rough roads affect all 50 states, and the available funding from federal and state initiatives never seems adequate to address the unending problems. Besides the maintenance costs, vehicle operating costs are higher from accelerated vehicle depreciation, added repair costs, increased fuel consumption and tire wear.
What Can You Do?
You can help minimize the dangers of driving on rough roads. One of the most effective things you can do is to slow down. Higher speeds kick up more debris, making it harder to avoid problems that appear on damaged roads and making it more difficult to stop when faced with unexpected, often hidden dangers. Keeping your vehicle well-maintained and frequently checking your tires for proper pressure, splits, tears and wear, especially as required during your pre- and post-trip inspections, will help you avoid additional damages and costly delays.