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The two main reasons our roads are riddled with potholes and cracks — and why they're expected to get even worse

"These changes could increase the risk of delays, disruptions, damage, and failure."

"These changes could increase the risk of delays, disruptions, damage, and failure."

Photo Credit: iStock

Traveling along a bumpy road isn't a pleasant experience, but it appears the costly issue will continue getting worse.

What's happening?

Forbes detailed how our roads are unfortunately experiencing conditions perfect for degradation, with weather and traffic patterns being the two key factors leading to less-than-smooth rides.

"Potholes, for example, are typically the result of prolonged water infiltration through the surface, which weakens the underlying layers," Laurie Winkless wrote for the outlet, adding that excessively soggy soil can also lead to sagging or collapsed roads.

Heavy vehicles driving on roads not intended for them are also exacerbating the issue. 

Freight-carrying trucks have become more numerous each year in New Zealand, according to Forbes, which pointed out that engineers typically assess that "roads in a low-traffic [area] or residential neighborhoods can be made with thinner and less expensive road-base materials." 

The American Trucking Associations projects that the freight sector is expected to grow in the United States as well.  

Why is this concerning?

Experiencing less-than-sunny days is part of life, but extreme weather has been growing in frequency and intensity, with atmospheric rivers, wildfires, hurricanes, and heat waves among the dangerous and devastating events.   

The burning of dirty energy, which releases heat-trapping gases into our atmosphere, is driving this worrying trend. In a blog post, journalist and climate tech investor Molly Wood described the overheating of our planet as "basically steroids for weather." 

Last year, the U.S. saw a record number of billion-dollar disasters, and that's not taking into account the damage that might not be apparent until more time has passed. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, flooding, extreme snow events, and high temperatures all shorten the lifespan of our roadways, and certain conditions make it unsafe for workers to complete the necessary repairs. 

"These changes could increase the risk of delays, disruptions, damage, and failure across our land-based, air, and marine transportation systems," the EPA wrote of the impact of our planet's rising temperatures. 

What is being done to help?

Freight transportation accounts for nearly 30% of carbon pollution from transportation, as most large trucks run on diesel, a type of dirty fuel. 

However, some major companies, like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, have begun adding electric semis to their fleets in efforts to cut harmful pollution linked to extreme weather and poor air quality, among other things. 

Electric vehicles have also become more popular with individual consumers, while research is being done to create lighter EV batteries, as well as more sustainable roads.  

While EVs have less of a negative environmental impact than gas-guzzling modes of transportation, as they don't release pollution when driven, walking or biking when possible is even better for our health, the planet, and our roads. 

As Forbes pointed out, billions of bicycles would need to travel on a road to create the same level of stress as approximately one freight truck or 1,582 cars. 

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