New Technology to Prevent Potholes

Small potholes with water in them.

Healthy roads keep drivers and passengers safe. But sometimes roads have holes in them. These dangerous holes are called potholes.  Drivers try to avoid them, so they do not cause damage to their vehicles. Potholes occur because of excessive wear from traffic and water. The weight of repeated vehicle movement causes cracks and potholes. Winter weather also causes potholes. Snow and ice melt as part of seasonal freeze and thaw cycles. Water settles into the road through cracks and freezes. The frozen water expands underneath the road and cracks it open.

Pothole in the center of a road.

Roads are not built to last forever. But there are ways to help them last longer. New technology has been developed to improve road conditions and reduce potholes. Researchers have developed an “intelligent compaction” technology that is built into a road roller. The road roller uses a sensor to assess the compaction quality of the road.  Roads are made up of three layers that are rolled and compacted. The three layers should not be under-compacted or over-compacted.  The new technology can determine if the compaction is ‘just right.’ Roads that are built ‘just right’ can keep the roads in good condition longer. Strong roads are safe roads.

What Do You Think? Why is it important to limit potholes in roads? Name some ways they can cause damage.

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