Highway infrastructure across the U.S. is suffering from a lack of repair and investment, and every winter it gets worse. This year’s unpredictable temperature fluctuations throughout the cold season have torn roads up more than usual, leading to an epidemic of potholes popping up faster than authorities can fix them, especially in colder Midwest states like Indiana.
The damage in Indianapolis has become so bad that transportation officials in town estimate that it would take over $730 million to fix all of the roads in need of repair, which is almost six times their current annual budget available for such issues. The problem in many cities like Indianapolis is that a shortage of spending in the past to address potholes is leading to a contemporary crisis that is quickly getting out of hand. If the annual investment in solving the problem doesn’t at least keep pace with the rate of new potholes, the problem rapidly escalates.
The pothole problem isn’t just an aesthetic problem or a minor annoyance, either. The insufficient infrastructure spending that leaves all these potholes waiting for drivers leads to another $5 billion a year spent on car repairs because of potholes, according to some estimates. While it may serve as a reliable source of business for auto mechanics, it’s an incredible cost to pass onto consumers because of insufficient infrastructure spending.
“Big potholes in the road can hurt you a lot more than just by raising your blood pressure,” says Jason Chalik, a car accident lawyer in Fort Lauderdale. “It’s easy for a good hit to blow a tire or throw off your suspension.” Whether or not you notice any immediate problems after hitting potholes, you should regularly check your tires and rims to catch any damage.
You might also be able to avoid adding to that $5 billion in costs every year if you watch out for potholes and learn how to minimize damage to your car. Slowing down and trying to avoid the potholes entirely is a good idea, but be careful about swerving or slowing down too suddenly. Braking when you hit the pothole can make the damage worse, and swerving can put you in danger of hitting other cars on the road. Try to approach road hazards like these calmly and ensure your vehicle is ready for it by keeping your tires inflated up to a sufficient, regular level.
How the Weather Tears Up Our Roads
Potholes are a seasonal problem because it all has to do with temperature changes. Newly built roads are structured to let rain and snow drain off the road with no problem. Over time, however, heat and traffic wear down the street and produce cracks. Water will fill these cracks and then freeze and expand in cold weather. It damages the structure of the road as it grows, and then it leaves an open space when it melts, which can quickly collapse and produce a pothole. So watch out this spring as the snow melts and new potholes continue to appear!