The Perils of Potholes
Potholes on the roads are a problem in almost all countries. It is more prevalent in nations like India, but it is also a prominent topic of discussion in countries with more robust infrastructure, such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and many more. It is discussed in the media frequently every month and is a common point of debate during every election campaign in countries worldwide. However, it remains an unresolved global issue. This article explores the dangers of potholes and how technology can help resolve the pothole problem.
What are potholes, and how are they caused?
Road surfaces that have cracked, deteriorated, and eventually formed a hole are called potholes. They are caused due to the following reasons:
- Poor road construction and design that results in waterlogging
- Overloading by heavy vehicles
- Poor road repair and maintenance
- Unethical practices by corrupt officials and contractors
The economic, political and humanitarian impact of potholes
The economic impact of potholes is clear. Potholes are a pain for governments, who must find ways to fund their repair. Repairing potholes can be a time-consuming and expensive process. Every year, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on pothole repairs. According to a recent report, potholes cost the United States economy an estimated $7.3 billion per year. This figure includes costs for repairing vehicles, as well as the cost of lost productivity due to delays caused by potholes.
The political impact of potholes is also significant. Poor road conditions are often seen as a sign of government failure and can lead to public dissatisfaction. This can lead to a decrease in voter turnout in elections and a decrease in public trust in the government.
Finally, the humanitarian impact of potholes can be severe. Potholes can lead to traffic accidents and serious injuries, and in some cases, even death. This can have a devastating impact not only on the individuals involved but also on their families. Potholes create traffic congestion, which in turn causes respiratory issues and various other health issues in people due to air pollution. Potholes cause damage to vehicles which again hurts people's pockets as they must shell out huge sums of money for vehicle repairs.
Use of Modern, Good-Quality Materials: Good-quality asphalt should be used because it is quick and easy to repair a pothole with this material. Asphalt has a high strength, which can withstand significant wear and tear without breaking down. So, it is unlikely that a pothole will again form in the same location.
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Modernization of Road Maintenance: Potholes often occur due to a lack of maintenance. Instead of waiting for potholes to form, governments should regularly inspect and repair roads to prevent potholes from forming. The current manual method of inspection must be replaced by automated road asset surveillance and management.
Use of Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics: Potholes form due to a variety of reasons. It is difficult to pinpoint which roads are at risk of potholes and which are not. AI-based solutions can easily identify high-risk areas, allowing for targeted preventive maintenance in areas where potholes are likely to form. This helps to reduce the time, resources and money it takes to repair potholes.
Potholes are an ever-present problem for governments, citizens, and economies across the globe. Potholes can cause severe harm to pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and to vehicles. Additionally, their effects reach far beyond just the roads they occupy, impacting governments, economies, and people's safety.
AI-based solutions can help governments detect and manage potholes more effectively, reducing the cost of repairs and the economic, political and humanitarian impact of potholes. AI-based road asset management allows officials in charge to be alerted when there is a problem with the road. This enables them to address the problem before it becomes a pothole. In short, modernization of road maintenance using AI-based technology for assessing roads and utilising modern good-quality materials for repairing potholes is the solution for eliminating the terrible pothole problem.