Seasonal pothole disorder and how to prevent it

Seasonal pothole disorder and how to prevent it

If only potholes were a disorder confined to single seasons, but unfortunately they seem to be appearing as a year-round problem affecting us all whether we are motorists, cyclists, pedestrians or air travellers. Just hearing the word itself is enough to elicit a reaction – a groan, a shudder, a recalled near-miss moment, a lucky escape or maybe not quite so lucky. Sadly, ‘pothole’ is now a word that has become a mainstay especially in British motorists’ vocabularies regularly accompanying that immediate sinking feeling when that irritatingly all-too familiar front wheel jolt comes up to bite you.

So common are potholes on our roads, that there are whole websites dedicated to them and the damage they cause such as www.potholes.co.uk. Here, you can not only report potholes as you come across them, but share stories, photos and claim outcomes all relating to potholes. Another website set up predominantly for cyclists is www.fillthathole.org.uk; they have also launched a fillthathole app for cyclists to be able to report potholes as they find them on the go. With so many people talking about them and the urgency building around fast and continuous reporting of them, it is clear that up and down the country potholes are eating up a whole lot of our time.

Authorities paying out more than £30m in compensation claims

It’s not only our time being erodedunfortunately. The damage that potholes cause is estimated to be the reason behind 1 in 10 mechanical failures on the roads. According to the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) report published in 2013, potholes are a major factor in causing axle and suspension failure which counts for one third of mechanical issues on UK roads and costs British motorists an estimated £2.8billion every year. It also goes on to mention that authorities currently pay out more than £30 million in compensation claims due to poor roads and that road maintenance in England and Wales is underfunded by around 55%, or £1 billion every year. These figures are alarming and could be significantly reduced by investing in building better roads in the first place. Highways Magazine reports that it costs roughly £52 to fill a pothole (£70 in London). If you multiply this by the average number of potholes filled per local authority each year (England 20,702, London 4,993, Wales 5,902) then once again we see yet another overwhelming amount of money being spent on reactive maintenance.

The question is, why put this type of money into reactive repair of potholes rather than using new technologies to build better and sturdier roads? It really is true in this case that prevention is better (and cheaper) than the cure. The innovative technology to repair potholes and prevent them from recurring is here and should be invested in as the responsible solution from both long term safety and financial perspectives. There are high-quality geosynthetic reinforcement products readily available on the market today. GlasGrid® is one such product, with excellent bonding capabilities, high-tensile strength and the ability to provide an effective moisture barrier. Just what is needed given that the majority of potholes are caused by water seeping in and eroding the under-layers of our roads and pavements.

Investing in geosynthetic reinforcement technologies

Pavement damage and instability is usually as a result of any one or a combination of poor soil conditions, poor drainage, increased weight of traffic and age. High weight of traffic for example, can cause load associated cracking which create stresses through shear and bending forces exceeding fracture strengths of the existing asphalt overlay. With effective collaboration between local authorities and road surfacing experts using high-tensile, strong-bonding, geosynthetic reinforcement technologies, road repair could become an investment to go the distance, putting an end to the high sums of money quite literally disappearing down a hole.