Proper maintenance and upkeep is one of the most important tasks for local, State, and Federal governments. Since the creation of the highway system, the use of various tax moneys at the city, state, and national level has allowed for unprecedented degrees of mobility for the American people. Most families can jump in the car and go anywhere in the country in the matter of a few days or weeks.
The reason this is possible is that interstates, highways, and local roads built decades ago receive maintenance to repair damage done over time. Damage can be caused by many things, including wear-and-tear from vehicles as well as wind and rain, and also sudden major damage from car accidents or severe weather such as tornadoes. Of these, staying on top of wear-and-tear is particularly important, as all roads are subject to this form of degradation.
There are three common types of wear-and-tear issues with roads, including:
- Wheel Ruts
- Crumbling edges
Potholes are caused when moisture under the road impacts the structural strength of certain areas. Over time, traffic wears unevenly on these places, or cold weather causes the moisture to turn to ice. When this occurs, parts of the road cave in, causing a pothole to occur. Potholes can cause tires to burst when struck at high speeds or can cause difficulty controlling a vehicle, increasing the risk of an accident.
Wheel ruts occur when cars and trucks travel the same path for years and years. Over time, the tires wear down the road in the spots where the treads most often meet the asphalt. If wheel ruts are not addressed, the difference in height can make turning or moving in and out of the wheel ruts more difficult, increasing the risk of an accident due to oversteering and overcorrection.
Urban streets are less prone to crumbling edges, as the concrete of sidewalks acts as reinforcement. But for country highways, crumbling edges can be a major problem, especially if left unrepaired for long. Eventually it is no longer just the edges that are crumbling, and the useable part of the lane can decay until the risk of a head-on collision is exacerbated.
Drivers should be aware of the risks of these issues and drive accordingly, avoiding potholes as appropriate and staying off the center line even if the edges of the road are crumbling. If you or someone you love has been in an accident, and you believe the other driver failed to properly take into account road conditions, please consult with an experienced attorney.