Many people use roads and freeways each day to commute and pavement hazards rarely cross their minds. By expanding your knowledge of common pavement hazards, you can learn to recognize and avoid them, leading to improved safety for yourself and others.
Common pavement hazards on roadways can lead to accidents and injury. Motorcycle and bicycle users are even more susceptible to accidents and injuries caused by pavement defects due to the fact that more of a focus is put on cars when road safety tests are conducted. Defects can be annoying to car drivers but can be catastrophic to motorcyclists and cyclists.
Common Pavement Defects on Roadways are:
• Wheel ruts: Caused by heavy traffic loads. Can lead to hydroplaning and ice patch formation. Motorcycles can be impacted by wheel ruts when changing lanes and wheel ruts can can also affect their handling.
• Potholes: caused by expansion and contraction of ground water after water has entered into the ground under pavement.
• Pavement dropoffs: caused by settling, inadequate or incomplete construction. Affects stability, can cause over correction or loss of control.
• Shoving: Occurs due to braking and acceleration on hills and intersections. Impacts small cars and motorcycles. Can cause loss of control issues.
• Cracking: Can be caused by repeated heavy traffic loading, weather and age. Cracking on roadways can affect stability and can cause loss of control or abrupt stops.
• Loss of pavement surface friction: Caused by heavy traffic loads, high frequency of speed changes or cornering. These factors polish the roads surface, causing the road to become slick. Loss of surface friction can lead to lane departure incidents, like running off road or hitting trees, poles guardrails or signs.
Roadway defects during construction
To be safe and continue to operate efficiently, roads need to be maintained. In order to keep roadways open while maintenance is performed, phased construction is used. Temporary pavement hazards during construction will occur so that the roadways can be repaired or improved. Although hazards are necessary during construction, the hazards must be reasonable. Pavement hazards during construction need to be:
• provide proper and prior warnings;
• have appropriate guarding; and
• apply standards of care.
Common construction roadway defects include:
• Uneven lanes: Abrupt elevation difference on roadways. Can occur when roadways are widened.
• Bumps: Changes in elevation that run latitude to traffic flow. Can cause loss of control or reduction of friction.
• Loose gravel: Loose particles that may cause loss of friction. Loose gravel can lead to flying rocks or particles on the roadway, loss of control or a lack of pavement markings that can cause motorists to drift out of their lane.
• Milling: Removes part of the surface of a paved area. Milling can leave a grooved surface or loose material behind and can expose a failed area of pavement. Motorists could experience reduced friction, flying debris and potholes due to milling.
Now that you are aware of the types of pavement hazards that can occur due to road use, natural factors and construction, you can learn to identify hazards and avoid them or navigate over them in a way that is safer for you and others.