Pavement Problems Caused by Weather

When the weather turns bad your ability to maneuver a vehicle is eliminated. Water on the road will reduce the friction between your tires and the road surface; you must compensate for this potential danger by reducing your speed in very heavy rain. Another point you should notice is that water mixed with oil and rubber creates an extremely slippery surface. Authorities warn that the first few minutes of a rain storm, especially after a prolonged dry spell in which an oil and rubber film, are dangerous to accumulate, are extremely dangerous.

Ice and snow also reduce friction. Much experimentation has been carried on in these conditions, to determine how much longer it takes to stop the same car on various slippery surfaces than under ideal conditions.

At 20 miles per hour the vehicle will stop in 21 feet (excluding reaction time) on dry pavement. On loosely packed snow, it will take 60 feet. However, on glare ice the distance to stop is increased to 195 feet – nine times as long as under normal conditions. Frequently the width of the road is narrowed with snow drifts, and there is constant danger that fresh snow will cover ice on the road. These conditions can cause sudden and extreme danger without you adjust your driving.

In the spring and fall, an early morning frost can create a deceptive slippery film on the road surface. In some areas, drivers are warned about this danger, especially at bridges and overpasses. At these particular locations the temperature may drop more quickly, and the resulting frost can cause slippery surface conditions when there is little or no warning from observing other weather indicators.

In the spring you should note low areas on the road. Such areas will collect water, which may be covering a hidden patch of ice. Expert driving is demanded in this situation.

Brick or cobblestone pavement can be extremely slippery when there are small amounts of moisture on the surface. Since this type of pavement is frequently irregular, the amount of tire surface in actual contact with the road at any given moment of time will be reduced. The resulting reduction of friction could cause a skid to result.

Gravel, sand, and washboard roads could all need special care, since the irregular surfaces of these roads can easily lead to a loss of control. Wet steel rails on the road also have been known to cause unexpected grief when the driver failed to realize that the surface was extremely slippery.

A slightly different type of weather problem occurs when extreme changes in temperature cause the pavement to heave or crack, resulting in the common pot hole. Pot holes can cause problems in numerous ways. Steering and tires can be damaged, and wheel alignment thrown off center. Hitting such an obstacle could also cause you to lose control of the car by the mystery lurch of the steering wheel. Be careful on such types of pavement. When you see posted warnings of rough or broken road conditions, heed them. Such warnings can save you expensive repairs, or possibly even your life.

In most of the above problems, your best procedure is to slow down. On slippery pavement it will take you longer to stop your car, so you need a greater following distance between your car and the vehicles ahead. Read your highway traffic legislation and see who is responsible for avoiding tail end collisions. To say you slid into the vehicle ahead will not fix the damage or reduce your pain if you are injured. The only sensible thing to do is to watch constantly for dangerous weather conditions and drive appropriately. Always observe the following points:

1. Check the weather anticipated on your route.

2. Have your car prepared for bad weather or winter driving.

3. Carry sand or salt to assist you should you become stuck.

4. Give yourself more time to reach your destination.