Potholes are capable of not only causing damage to vehicles, but also injuring human beings seriously due to accidents experienced trying to avoid them. One of the biggest challenges with potholes is being able to spot then and repair them before they get larger.
Yet another challenge is being able to anticipate areas on a road surface that have the potential to become potholes.
In the UK, potholes have often been blamed for causing traffic snarl ups as clever motorists attempt to avoid them. This off course affects the natural flow of traffic as per the design of a road surface.
As infrastructure ages in the UK, there is likely to be a more rapid creation of potholes. There is currently a backlog of £14billion worth potholes which has not been addressed. It is estimated that the backlog would take no less than 14 years to fill in without counting the potholes that would be newly generated over the same period. In addition, even with Councils fixing a pothole every 15 seconds last year, the task to bring back the glory in UK roads still remains extremely challenging.
In 2017, Councils will have to bid for up to £75 million to repair and maintain local bridges, street lighting and rural roads. The total funding to be disbursed to improve UK roads is £1.2billion which is but a drop in the £14billion ocean that is required. It is further worthy noting that drivers made more than 31,000 claims against local councils for suspension and wheel related damage to vehicles alongside potentially life threatening overall vehicle damage.
The UK government’s attempt at addressing this backlog is an innovative way to spot potential potholes. Lorries that collect trash are being fitted with high definition cameras that are designed to detect defects on the road that have the potential to become potholes.
The cameras will be fitted at the bottom of bin-lorries and will take continuous high definition images of road surfaces along the routes it is assigned to pick up trash.
However, the plan is set to be piloted in Thurrock, York and Essex is facing opposition from several quarters. Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron reckons that this new initiative by government is nothing short of cheap politics of the worst kind. Pothole eradication campaigner Mark Morell further wonders what government will do with the information they collect from the photographs.
Local Transport spokesman at the Local Government Association Martin Tett also notes that despite potholes being fixed on a regular basis, budget reductions leave less money to spend on fixing roads. He further reckons that roads should be a national priority if the problem is to be addressed conclusively.
Whichever way you slice it, it seems that it will take more than a one-year pilot project to conclusively deal with potholes on UK roads. The pilot system is designed to provide information on the state of roads. There will need to be a further investment in using the information to respond to the aging infrastructure that is UK roads.