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Could New Road Surface Technology Make Potholes Obsolete?

By Practice Development Leader, Personal Injury

It’s early August and several months away from the wintry rain and freezing temperatures that cause potholes, but they continue to be a problem for road users all year round.

Pothole In Road 

Ask any driver or cyclist and they’ll tell you how some roads in their local area feel like a slalom course at times, as they have to veer in and out to avoid potholes.

With council road maintenance budgets severely reduced over the last few years, we’ve lived with potholes – and the inherent road traffic accident risk – for longer than perhaps we’ve been used to.

That’s a pretty depressing thought for road users, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Well, at least in Holland for the time being as a Dutch company called VolkerWessels believe they’ve found a way of making potholes a thing of the past.

Plastic Roads in Holland

VolkerWessels have designed a road surface made from 100% recycled plastic that’s durable enough to survive temperatures as low as minus 40° C and as high as 80°C.

The PlasticRoad project is currently being trialled in the Dutch city of Rotterdam and, if successful, could mark the beginning of the end for potholes. Not only because of the new surface’s ability to withstand extreme temperatures, but because of the way the new roads will be constructed. Interlocking ‘Lego-style’ pieces are pre-made in a factory and shipped to the site – if a section of the road is damaged for whatever reason, it’s easily replaceable.

The new roads are expected to last up to 50 years. They’ll also be hollow inside, making it much easier for cable and utility pipes to be installed below the surface. Could plastic roads also mean less roadworks for drivers and cyclists to navigate around?

Rotterdam became the first city to express an interest in piloting the new roads when it announced a trial last month. Tests will be carried out to ensure that the plastic roads are safe when wet but VolkerWessels are confident of the project’s success and expect to lay the very first plastic road within three years.

Pothole-proof Road Coatings in Surrey

Just a few weeks ago, Surrey Council announced that more than 800 roads in Surrey will be treated with a “pothole proof” coating.

Surrey is believed to be the first local authority in the UK to use the new Superflex asphalt which, according to manufacturers, is highly water resistant and flexible and will make the roads more resistant to vibrations and movement, so they’ll be less prone to damage. In fact, they are so confident of its success that, when treated, the roads come with a 10-year “no pothole guarantee.”

In 2014, potholes were responsible for £3.2 million in driver compensation claims. Some potholes can catch drivers unaware, particularly if they are driving at speed. Whiplash injuries are often caused by driving over potholes and more drivers are at risk if our roads continue to be poorly maintained due to budget cuts.

As a firm who promotes road safety, we welcome any advances in technology that make our roads safer for all users. It’s great to hear about such innovations in road technology and, as long as any new surfaces are thoroughly tested, we look forward to a day when, perhaps, we can say goodbye to potholes for good.

Deborah Johnson is a Senior Personal Injury Solicitor and National Practice Development Leader for Road Collision at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers offer a free consultation for anybody injured in a road traffic accident through no fault of their own.

Call us 24/7 on 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you.

What do you think about the plans for new roads? Do you have some bad potholes where you live? Let us know in the comments below.

Personal Injury, road traffic accident

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