By on February 23, 2018

In So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish, Douglas Adams introduces the reader to the character of Rob McKenna. Rob is a truck driver; he is also a Rain God. It rains every day of McKenna’s life because the clouds want to be near him. Later on in the book, McKenna starts earning a healthy living from vacation resorts, which pay him to stay away.

I can’t say it’s rained every day of my life. I can say that the weather in my home town improves dramatically the minute I leave. Last week, while I was riding a Road Glide around Los Angeles in a recurring rainstorm, there was an early spring in Ohio. Temperatures went from the mid-twenties to the mid-seventies pretty much overnight and stayed there until my plane was about halfway back home, at which point it started to rain and the mercury dropped twenty degrees. I am not kidding about this.

On the road home, I saw a two-foot-wide hole in the freeway where there had previously been no hole whatsoever. I drove around it. Shortly afterwards, I was confronted by an odd tableau: at least six cars pulled over, covering both shoulders, with their drivers in conversations ranging from dazed to agitated. All of the cars were tilted to some degree, because they all had at least one flat tire. In my rearview mirror, I saw a Subaru coasting to a stop on the right shoulder behind me. It, too, was tilted.

Turns out that was just the beginning.

The sudden heat wave had proven to be too much for Ohio’s long-suffering asphalt freeways. They were developing potholes left and right. Some of them were more like sinkholes than potholes. The local television stations started warning people. A friend of mine, a genial fellow who owns a couple million dollars’ worth of hypercars but likes to avoid contact with strangers, ended up drafting himself into an one-man emergency assistance crew in his neighborhood after close to a dozen cars coasted to a halt in front of him with bent wheels. I’m pretty sure he filled up his annual quota for awkward personal interactions, despite it being only February.

I’ll say this for my fellow Ohio hicks, however; four days after the apocalypse, enough of the holes were filled city-wide that I felt comfortable running my ZX-14R at relatively stout speeds down the freeway well after darkness had fallen. There were a lot of people out there working pretty hard to put the situation right. I’ve heard horror stories from friends on the East Coast about potholes that were old enough to vote, or at least to attend kindergarten; that stuff generally doesn’t happen around here. The public works departments have both funding and motivation. It’s not just true for my jumped-up little suburb, it’s true for the major cities as well.

Still, I couldn’t help but think about all of the diverse driving-related issues that were wrapped up in that long night of flat tires and roadside misery. I’ll just list them below and you can see which ones seem relevant to you.

Penny wise and pound foolish. Concrete freeways cost more to build to begin with. That cost disadvantage, and the fact that some bidding processes have provisions designed to favor asphalt, mean that a lot of freeway surface in central Ohio is asphalt instead of concrete. Which means you have to fix it in a hurry when there’s a major temperature change. This being Ohio, of course there are major temperature changes. So why not spend the money up front and do it right? We could probably do with a little more transparency about how decisions like this are made.

Poor vision and aggressive driving can have consequences. The vast majority of the time there’s no excuse for hitting a pothole. You should be looking far enough ahead to see the pothole and to adjust your lane. Of course, this won’t happen if you are looking right in front of your grille. It also won’t happen if you’re distracted by your phone or your passengers or your lunch. Last but not least, it won’t happen if you are tailgating. I suspect that the first car to hit these potholes slowed down afterwards, which caused a ripple of swerving and aggressive driving behind them, which caused more people to drive directly into the pothole. And this was well after any kind of rush hour. There wasn’t enough traffic on the road to mandate close-coupled driving. Yet people do it anyway. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

The era of mechanical sympathy is over. I’ve watched quite a few people knowingly drive right into potholes over the past week. We’ve all become accustomed to vehicles that don’t break no matter how we mistreat them. Today’s driver expects that his car will be perfect. When things go wrong, his first instinct is to run away and ask for help. (Warning: Don’t watch that video if you want to have any hope for the future of America.)

This kind of stuff sells crossovers and SUVs to people, because it’s easier to write a check than it is to fix your behavior. Nearly every vehicle I saw off the road was a sedan. There was even a Panamera affected, which made me snicker. I guarantee you that some of the pothole-hitters will decide that “an SUV wouldn’t get a flat tire” and they’ll switch to a crossover or truck next time. When I was in my twenties, I observed a precursor of this phenomenon: every co-worker I had who managed to wind up in a wintry ditch decided that they should buy a Jeep Grand Cherokee. The following year, there were a lot of Grand Cherokees in ditches. At the same time, these SUV intenders aren’t necessarily wrong: the one time I hit a pothole this week was during a lane change where I was watching some fairly insane stuff happen in my rearview mirror so I didn’t look at the road surface as closely as I should have. I hit said pothole pretty hard. I was in my Silverado. Nothing happened. Credit those extra-load tire sidewalls, I guess.

Civilization is more fragile than we give it credit for. When David Brin wrote his take on a collapse-of-society novel, he said that “The Postman was written as an answer to all those post-apocalyptic books and films that seem to revel in the idea of civilization’s fall. It’s a story about how much we take for granted — and how desperately we would miss the little, gracious things that connect us today.” I will admit that I am occasionally prone to a bit of longing for a so-called “hard reset” in American life, even at the cost of a little unpleasantness. This past week served as a reminder to me that there is an authentic purpose for central government and central authority. I would like to believe that a privately-owned road system would act even faster to fill potholes… but what if they took a Travis Kalanick approach to it and said, “Hey, we have the only roads around there, let them eat cake”… at that point, what can you do? I’m going to try to have a little more faith in my fellow man from now on.

The temperature dropped today, all the way down to a flirtation with freezing. Not to worry. This weekend I’m headed back to California — and the weather is predicted as sixty degrees and sunny. I might come back to find that it has happened all over again. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Do we have time to take it back to the old school? I believe we do…

[Image: Ford]

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119 Comments on “No Fixed Abode: Night of the Potholes...”


  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    I lived in Ohio and and yes the road system could be better.

    That said much of the problem is the fashion of giant (fragile, heavy expensive) wheels with low profile tires.

    • 0 avatar
      Omnifan

      I was in Ohio last week and the roads were “like new” compared to those in Michigan. The difference is painfully obvious when you cross the state line on I-75.

      • 0 avatar
        1500cc

        @ Omnifan
        I was about to write the exact same thing based on my trip from Ontario to Kentucky last weekend.

        I don’t know if the cause is Michigan’s relative lack of urgency/budget for maintaining their highways, or the construction methods used, but Ohio’s roads were like a dream as soon as we crossed the border. It seemed to me that Michigan’s concrete heaved a lot more, twisting and buckling in sections, causing a ride like a plane going through turbulence. Plus a lot of big chunks just plain missing where two sections joined. Ohio’s asphalt, on the other hand, was just flat and smooth with fewer potholes.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Yes.

        It was actually the reverse for a few years back before I-75 was widened to three lanes in north Toledo, past the I-280 split. I-75 has been essentially rebuilt between the Ohio border and I-275 over the last few years, and is still holding up OK, but Lord knows how much longer before that starts crumbling!

        (With the construction and rebuilding of I-75 between I-280 and downtown Toledo, ODOT reconfigured the southbound ramps to and from I-280 from left to right-access, I wonder how many drivers have been caught by surprise there?! My Dad, who’s driven that stretch for 40+ years, has missed the switch at least twice, if not more!)

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Exactly. This is the downside to rubber-band tires. I’m old enough to remember when most cars had 75-series tires, and 65 series was considered low-profile.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        mmreeses I don’t think anyone is blaming low profile tires and big wheels on passenger cars for causing more road damage, more so that poor road condition is becoming more noticeable as cars are becoming more fragile in regards to wheels and tires.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve65

        “…and 65 series was considered low-profile.”

        And when the first 50 series tires showed up, they really did look like a rubber band stretched around the rim.

    • 0 avatar
      mmreeses

      blame roads under-designed/built for freight truck use.

      Impact on pavement goes up exponentially with weight.

      That dual-trailer going 70 is doing much, much more damage than a Escalade with low profile tires going 85.

      and given the way tolls-gas-diesel taxes are set up, car-SUV drivers are subsidizing the freight industry when you compare road wear versus taxes-tolls paid.

      But the freight industry, Amazon has better paying lobbyists and give more campaign cash to politicians than AAA. And the average voter doesn’t know the equation for road impact force

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    I don’t live in Ohio, I’m on the Gulf Coast (approx 50 miles inland). Our roads have become littered with potholes, a combination of a harsher-than-recent-past winter coupled with a lot of rain.

    They fill the pothole, it rains for 6 days and then drops to the mid 20s for a few nights, and the pothole is not only back, its doubled in size. Some become unavoidable due to their sheer size and placement.

  • avatar
    MrGrieves

    This winter has really done a number on our roads here in the South – specifically in Northern Alabama. We had a series of freeze/thaw cycles in December and January that have spawned some serious potholes. They are generally filled quickly, but the repair method of “just dump some loose asphalt and pack it down with a shovel” lasts only a few weeks. The best situation would be for the filled-in holes to survive until a proper mill-and-repave operation can take place… which may or may not happen.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    I agree that you should see the pothole coming, just as you might see some debris. There will be cases, in tight highway driving, where you can’t weave or reduce speed but at city speeds there’s no excuse. It was 70 degrees here on Wednesday and the DPW was out in force “patching” the holes. In 90 minutes it was 40 degrees, the next morning they were salting again. On it goes.

  • avatar
    incautious

    I swear the the auto manufacturers especially the German’s are in cahoots with the tire manufacturers. 19 20 22 inch ultra low profile tires on an awd sedan. I went through 3 sets of tires on my A5 within 20,000 miles all because the sidewalls had bubbles in them from potholes. When it rains out can’t see the potholes in order to avoid them. Didn’t matter the brand of tire Pirelli,Continental. I keep a full size spare wheel and tire in my garage in anticipation of the inevitable sidewall damage. Oh and now now more $250 plus tires. I have much better luck with $100 Kumho’s

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      Very true. The thinner the tire and sidewall, the more likely it is to incur pothole damage and curbing scratches. Stick with larger tires and smaller rims, and pothole damage will be minimized. They wont look as good – but you never see a Jeep Wrangler stuck on the side of the road with pothole damage.

    • 0 avatar
      dividebytube

      I have to replace one of the summer tires – “only” 17″ rims – on a Countryman this coming spring. According to my tire guy, caused by a pothole. And Michigan is littered with potholes – some bad enough that I got a cracked windshield on my other Mini, this one with 16″ rims and more rubber than your average car these days. That harsh “sporty” ride eh?

      My old T100, on the other hand, could take the abuse. Lots of sidewall and more suspension movement.

    • 0 avatar
      SilverCoupe

      On the other hand, my A5 is pretty good at slaloming around the potholes (and Pennsylvania certainly has its share). I have not hit any potholes or gotten any flats in the six years (40K miles) that I have owned it. I had gotten a couple of flats on the TT that I had owned previously, though.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Unlike deer, potholes don’t just run out in front of you. Pay attention to what you are doing and you won’t bend any wheels. Drive at speeds appropriate for the conditions, and leave sufficient space in front of you to react to what comes from under the car in front, and you will be just fine. 30 years of driving in MAINE, where we know a thing or two about potholes and frost heaves, mostly in cars with alloys and relatively low profile wheels, and I have never bent a wheel.

      This is 100% a DRIVER issue.

      That said – a nice benefit of living winters in Florida is NO POTHOLES. You just have to dodge the driving Grannies instead.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        I’d love to see you slalom down some of our roads in Indy right now at rush hour. Without prior knowledge of which lanes to keep out of entirely, there’s no way to avoid some of the potholes without swerving partially out of your lane, which is sometimes not an option when another vehicle is right there. I agree that careful driving can mitigate most damage even in our conditions, but running around on low profile tires increases the risk dramatically.

  • avatar
    turf3

    1) 90% of these problems would not happen if we could buy cars with 70 or 60 series tires. Don’t give me the BS that the brakes have to be so big that it determines the ridiculous tire and wheel sizes. If 4 wheel drum brakes could lock up all 4 wheels on a car with 14″ wheels 40 years ago, 4 wheel disk brakes would be able to lock up all 4 wheels on the same car with 14″ wheels now. Like many other trends (absence of windows, for example) it is purely styling, resulting in lack of function.

    2) That video was deeply disturbing. Is this really what young men are like now? When I was 20 or so, no guy would have acted like that unless his children were trapped in the car. Also note that it’s not all young men; you can see the perfectly sane young soldier who confirms that no one is hurt, no one is in the car, and then basically rolls his eyes at the drama king as if to say “what are you so damn upset about?”

    I think I’ve just seen the “nu-male” in action. Heck, the girlfriend was far more manly. “Calm down, now, it’s just a car, and we are a hundred yards away from any danger…”

    • 0 avatar
      turf3

      Sorry, the last thing I wanted to add was, are people just not trained to be even a little stoic in the face of bad things happening, or is it that they are actively trained to be anti-stoic? I swear, in my age group anyone who behaved like that over a little thing like a car fire would never have been able to hold his head up in company again. He would have to take an alias and move out of state.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Good God, snowflake alert! What a wuss!

        I think I’d be at the side of the road yelling obscenities until my voice gave out, probably while clearing as much stuff out of the car as I could before things got too hot, not sobbing like a schoolgirl!

    • 0 avatar
      wumpus

      You really can’t compare tires from 40 years ago to modern ones (Jack has mentioned this in his “dark side” articles). But the reason for the silly wheels is pure fashion, and you can’t sell a wheel/car/CUV that doesn’t have that “Conestoga look”. When I first saw that silly style on SUVs I knew sane car/wheel design was doomed.

      • 0 avatar
        turf3

        Meaning what? That the laws of physics have changed and 1.5″ tall sidewalls now offer the same degree of shock absorption as 6″ tall sidewalls did 40 years ago, with the same air pressure inside?

        • 0 avatar
          cimarron typeR

          I remember seeing a pothole 3ft wide and 3ft deep in Manilla as a kid visiting family. As for the Wrangler, a Jeepney low centered with a rocker panel resting on the lip of the hole.

          I narrowed our search for only vehicles which could be had with luxury options and only 18 inch wheels. The Disco Sport and XT5 made the final cut, the MDX was close but only higher aspect 19s were available .

    • 0 avatar
      Menar Fromarz

      Ah, the “nu-male”…We live in a world where in modern music generally falls in line with this:

      1) Country music: Getting drunk and driving a truck, and variations on this theme.
      2) EDM and Hip-crap: Generally getting high, and acting skanky, both men and women.
      3) Nu-soul: Men ALWAYS sing in falsetto, but act like douchebags.

      That said, I still put my faith in women, and generous tire sidewalls, in that order.

    • 0 avatar
      NeilM

      ‘I think I’ve just seen the “nu-male” in action. Heck, the girlfriend was far more manly. “Calm down, now, it’s just a car, and we are a hundred yards away from any danger…” ‘

      I’m hoping she was the soon to be ex-girlfriend. Only one of them was squealing like a girl, and it sure wasn’t the girl.

      Road construction in the USA is for shit. The minimum possible foundation, poor drainage, skimpy surfacing. Then when the inevitable pavement breakup occurs, apply cold-patch, which has a half-life measured in single digit days.

      Penny wise, pound foolish.

      • 0 avatar
        chaparral

        I’d think the reaction in the video is appropriate if the car was not insured against fire and the guy has no backup car / alternate way to get to work!

        • 0 avatar
          turf3

          No, what a grown man or woman does is to say:

          “[bad language redacted], that’s really going to be troublesome. How the heck am I going to get to work tomorrow?”

          You might be FEELING INSIDE like you want to curl up in the fetal position and shriek but as a grown up adult you don’t do that. That’s what a three year old who hasn’t learned self control yet does.

          If you learn self control when you drop your ice cream cone at 3, when you bump your head at 4, when you skin your knees at 5, when the kid down the street pops you a good one at 6, when you break your arm at 12, when you get cut from the team at 14, when that cute girl says “you’re stupid and ugly and you bore me” at 16, when you get your first 17 on a Calculus 101 test at 18, when the drill instructor says “give me 50” at 22, and so on and so on, then if you experience a car fire at 28, you will know how to act like a grown up man or woman. I mean, what if there had been an actual emergency where this goofus actually had to keep his head and take immediate action to save his or another life?

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Preach it!

            Cry in your beer or triple-shot of something stronger, preferably at home, after the insurance claim has been started!

            (Of course, my insurer’s captive rental agency is Enterprise, which has given me FCA’s worst my last two claims! Now THAT’S a reason to go into hysterics! ;-) )

  • avatar
    TheEndlessEnigma

    Wouldn’t it be fun to watch a class action lawsuit against {Insert State Name Here}DOT for vehicle damage caused by poorly maintained roads?

  • avatar
    turf3

    As far as looking ahead:

    I used to live near an underpass which would fairly often flood in heavy rains. It was not unusual to see a car stalled in the deep water, because they thought it was just a big puddle and didn’t realize it was 6 feet deep.

    It was also not unusual to see three or four cars stalled in the deep water, in a line. You have to wonder, what were THEY thinking? “Yeah, I know that sedan right in front of me is going into the water up to the roof, but I’m sure I can get through it just fine in my sedan of the same type.” I am convinced that most people are incapable of looking forward past the tip of the rear bumper of the car in front of them. Almost daily I see a sea of red taillights on the freeway ahead of me, and as I start to coast toward the enormous stoppage there are people accelerating past me so that they can slam on their brakes half a mile ahead when they finally realize “oh my god, there’s stopped traffic!”

    Or the brilliants that want to turn from a small side street onto a busy multilane road, and don’t turn their heads to look for oncoming traffic until they are actually into the turn. “Oh my god! There’s three hundred thousand pounds of steel thundering down on me! How could I ever have anticipated that?”

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      So much this. Hardly anyone looks ahead. Or, since they live in morbid fear that someone might get in front of them, they stay glued to the bumper of the car in front of them. So stupid.

      We have an underpass like that in Portland ME too – and sure enough, there will be half a dozen cars dead. The first one, OK, that can happen if you are unfamiliar. But the rest – stooopid people. Same with whoever posted about destroying some wheels in a pothole and being on the side of the road with 4-5 other people. So the fact that a bunch of cars are off to the side of the road didn’t tip you off that MAYBE something is up right there? I would have slowed to a crawl until I was past them. He was probably gawking at them and not paying a bit of attention to what was in the road right in front of him.

      As far as turning – what amazes me are the super passive aggressive types (and I have a friend who does this incessantly). They will sit and wait, and wait, and wait while gaps big enough for a semi to pull out go by, then will suddenly decide to just GO when they are cutting people off and causing brakes to be slammed on. Baffling.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        We’ve got a couple underpasses in Toledo like that which are well-known, and yet LOCALS still chance it and hydrolock! (One of whom was ALMOST my Dad, a few years back! Fortunately, he had gotten through the puddle with no cabin intrusion of water, and the car restarted after a minute or so without lasting effects!)

  • avatar
    TR4

    Agree on the currently fashionable low profile tires making tire damage more likely. How many medium or heavy duty trucks (with higher profile and pressure tires) get pothole damage?

    Whatever happened to rolling the patches? All they seem to do nowadays is shovel the asphalt/aggregate mix in the hole, and perhaps pat it down with the shovel. No wonder they don’t last more than a few days.

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      I was lucky (?) the summer after my HS graduation that my mother got me a summer job with the state DOT. That was in 1978.

      A routine day would be to get a dump truck load of “hot mix” and drive around to fill pot holes, shovel in the crap, pat it down with our shovels and move on. We were done for the day after we’d emptied our load. I always wondered why we didn’t even use a manual roller, but I also wondered why everyone got a couple of 24-ounce beers for lunch, and had a weed break in the middle of the afternoon.

      I am far from perfect – but my mom would have had me arrested if I had pulled those stunts. My dump truck was filled with 3 others, 15-20 years into their careers (?) who would routinely calculate how many more years of work they needed to put in for the pension and benefits.

      I’m sure that my tiny view of how things work is not universal, but I know that every other truck we sent out did the same damn thing. Maybe we should open up more opportunities to private companies with at least some sort of warranty? Make them hot-roll the fixes, open them up to compensation to drivers who get screwed, (try getting a dollar from your state) just some attempt to try and get them to try even a bit harder? There were no cell phones then, but they are here now, and at least they could show the crappy job that was done.

      And yes, low profile tires are to blame as well but it is complete bs how my state, and I would dare say many states handle this crap.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Several points.
    That video is disturbing. I am confident though, this individual is not indicative of the overall population (fingers crossed).

    Perhaps the Tire & Wheel policy the F&I department offers you is worth the $$? If you buy a sedan with aluminum wheels and low profile tires, it seems like a no brainer to me…

    Conversely, all this does further cement the death knell for the sedan as the common choice. The CUV/SUV/CC pick up with larger tires and wheels becomes the obvious selection when our roads continue to fall into disrepair. Damaged wheels and tires is a hassle for anyone to have do deal with and if your DD selection can eliminate or reduce the likelihood it is hard to see the current trend abating.

    • 0 avatar
      Sub-600

      My sedan has 19” wheels. Coupes such as Camaros, Challys, and ‘Stangs routinely have 20” wheels. Not everyone runs low profiles. If budget constraints mean worsening roads and deeper potholes, there may be a market for surplus half-tracks.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        They make conversion kits for Jeeps…

        • 0 avatar
          turf3

          Do they make conversion kits for nu-males?

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Only if they can reattach a part which should have existed at birth!

            And knowing that my next car will have 19” wheels, I might actually take the F&I dude up on the wheel-replacement plan! (My current wheels have enough minor curb-rashes that that coverage would have paid for itself, given my OCD about these things!)

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Mustangs generally roll on 18 and 19 inch wheels ( the performance pack wheels are no larger than 19 inches ) although they do offer a single 20 inch wheel for the EB and GT premium trim cars.

        Your more likely to see 20 inch wheels as an aftermarket treatment so its mostly self inflicted rather than the manufacturer.

        Camaro IIRC rolls on 20’s stock though.

        And in both cases they offer mag dampers which helps a lot with the pot hole situation since the damper can adjust almost instantly to a pot hole offer at least some damage mitigation ( Ford showcased an interesting adaptation a few years ago where the car would hop over the pot hole ).

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “CUV/SUV/CC pick up with larger tires and wheels becomes the obvious selection when our roads continue to fall into disrepair.”

      The latter of which has already happened, and yet save truck platforms, the opposite has occurred with regard to wheel size sanity.

      Cui bono?

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      There are now pickups and SUVs with gigantic wheels and extreme low profile tires.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Aside from his screams, and pulling the car over to the left shoulder instead of the right, not sure what’s so bad about that video.

    I think there is merit to the whole “this wouldn’t have happened in an SUV” thiing. More suspension travel + bigger sidewalls = less flat tires + better pothole handling ability. Truthfully I think our crumbling infrastructure is a big driver of their popularity.

    • 0 avatar
      S197GT

      “…not sure what’s so bad about that video.”

      i tell my 6-yr old son that it is good to recognize, control, and discuss your emotions. i also tell him there is a proper time, place, and method. i am teaching him emotional intelligence. i have daniel goleman’s book next to me as i write this.

      the video is exhibit one that the driver is likely an emotional child with low EQ. i blame his parents more than him. what should have been instilled repeatedly in small doses in his younger years will now take heavy doses of therapy to learn coping techniques… if he chooses to recognize and deal with it.

      • 0 avatar
        turf3

        “…heavy doses of therapy to learn coping techniques…”

        Or, alternately, world-wide mockery, humiliation, and ridicule. How do you think those of us who are a) old, and b) able to control our emotions, learned? It wasn’t through some kind of well-thought-out emotional-intelligence teaching by our parents (usually, our parents were only aware of the general outlines of our emotional lives – as in, “Well, the kid doesn’t seem to be ill, and he gets reasonable report cards, and he doesn’t fight with his sisters too much – looks good here, on to the next thing!”).

        We learned how not to be a baby when something unhappy occurred, through mockery, humiliation, and ridicule – usually applied by our peers, NOT our parents.

        Finally, something the Internet is good for. Whereas this kid, 40 years ago, would only have received mockery, humiliation, and ridicule from a half dozen of his schoolmates at most, now he can receive mockery, humiliation, and ridicule from hundreds of thousands of Internet viewers. It may speed up the learning process.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Hmmm..let’s see if I can catalog some of how we got to this point:

          1. Everyone gets a trophy for showing up!
          2. Helicopter parents! My first instinct as a college professor, upon taking a phone call from an upset PARENT of a student who failed my class, would be to LMAO! Followed by “is your child over 18?! Learn to be a grownup!” ::Click!::
          3. Instant gratification!
          4. The inability to say “no,” and mean it.
          5. Not being able to swat your child on the bottom, with your hand only, in order to GET THEIR ATTENTION during a meltdown without the risk of being hauled away for child abuse! (A belt or even a paddle is pushing it, especially if more than two strikes!)
          6. The “PC-ing” of everything, in order to not hurt people’s feeeeeeeelings! (Suck it up, buttercup!)

          All of which leads to:
          1. Coloring books and therapy dogs..ON AN IVY-LEAGUE CAMPUS!
          2. Safe spaces, trigger alerts, and grown “omega-males” shrieking on the side of freeways!

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      Unlike fifty years ago, the response to mockery and humiliation is to shoot up the school.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    “I would like to believe that a privately-owned road system would act even faster to fill potholes”
    Here my fear about “Privatizing”. Tolls and other ways the “private” owner of said infrastructure serving the public being leveraged for ongoing profiteering. See the Chicago parking meters affair.

    https://www.afscme.org/news/publications/newsletters/works/works-fall-2013/chicago-parking-meters-an-outsourcing-fiasco

    I seriously don’t want a corporation, foreign or domestic to leverage infrastructure for profiteering.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      Forget it Jake, its Chicago. Oh, and the cite is the AFSCME, who as a matter of principle, wouldn’t give credit even if it weren’t a fiasco. But it is Chicago….

      I do agree ttacgreg on non-infrastructure ‘improvements’ like red light cameras and parking meters.

      But, if you read the history of infrastructure development, there were a lot of private and public/private initiatives. You could try David McCullough’s The Great Bridge and The Lives of the Engineers, Samuel Smiles, and The Life of Thomas Telford, also Smiles. Latter two free on Project Gutenberg.
      The Roeblings’s bridge and some of Telford’s even older ones are still being used, unlike the government supervised Twin Cities I-35 old bridge.

  • avatar
    arach

    I live in ohio. I drive 75 every day.

    This time of year it is awful. I seriously think I need to buy a jeep. You say drivers should be more careful, but I swear there are potholes IN potholes. The Its a freaking mine field- literally impossible to navigate, as trying to avoid one leads you into another.

    So I just “deal with it”. I try to avoid monsterous ones, but most potholes I just accept, drive through, and hope my car survives it… while I await April.

    I used to think that they needed to wait until people paid their taxes to fix the roads- hence April. thats why I always have april in my mind, but I’m sure it has a lot more to do with the weather.

    I’ve always been an advocate that we stop salting our roads. While there may be a few more accidents, there may be a lot less social damage due to the better road condition. But without any facts to support my thoughts, there’s not much I can do about it.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    In over 40 years of driving the only flat I have experienced from a pot hole was in a Mini John Cooper Works (Clubman or Countryman, whichever was larger/more expensive). The trend to low profile tires as many others have noted has a number of serious drawbacks.

    When buying new tires, I always ensure that they have a road hazard warranty. Pay extra for it if necessary.

    As for privatizing roads, repairs, etc. Just ask anyone in Southern Ontario how they feel about the privatization of Highway 407. The most expensive toll road probably in the world. You can pay a ‘camera fee’ of $4.15 everytime you use the highway, plus a $3.95 monthly billing fee. Plus the toll.

    Or you can get a transponder for $23.50 per year, plus a $3.95 monthly billing fee, plus a $1.00 charge every time you use the highway. Plus the toll.

    The tolls are so high that they have now ‘buried’ the per km charge. However it is estimated to be around 36 cents per km. My daily toll cost alone is around $18.00.

    And if your payments are in arrears, then you cannot renew your license plate.

    • 0 avatar
      spreadsheet monkey

      The tolls sound brutal, but what’s the road surface like?

      And what about traffic density and average speeds?

    • 0 avatar
      DougD

      My feelings are mixed. I’m happy I don’t have to use it every day, but I’m quite glad to use it occasionally to get up north or to cross the city, those glimpses you get of the 401 parking lot make it worth the twenty bucks.

      Traffic is lighter and moves well, enforcement is present but light.

      What burns my butt about the 407 is that we paid for building it, then the Ontario government sold a 99 year lease to a (mostly) Spanish consortium. If I have to pay high fees that’s my choice, but I’d prefer to have the money stay in this country.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        The portion that was originally constructed by the Ontario government is concrete.
        Traffic moves at ‘highway’ speeds even during most commuting hours, primarily because it is far too expensive for most to use regularly. Very few trucks or commercial vehicles to be seen on it.
        It was originally designed to be a ‘Toronto by-pass’ for trucks and those commuting through, but not into Toronto, but is not commonly used for that due to the cost.
        Has been the scene of a number of ‘racing’ incidents with those in ‘super cars’ trying to see what their vehicle can do.

        The then Conservative provincial government sold it for approximately 1/4 (based on it subsequent re-sale price) value. Then lied when the said that any toll increases would require government approval. They do not.

        An addition has recently been added on the eastern end that the government (for now) has maintained control of and although the private company handles the billing the toll costs on the public part are considerably lower.

        Had the misfortune of meeting one of the directors of the original Spanish controlled conglomerate that purchase it. He was an ex senior officer in the Spanish (Fascist/Franco) army, and acted very much as you would expect from a Falangeist.

        I believe that the largest shareholder now is the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund.

        Enforcement of toll collection has been the subject of a number of negative media reports. Exorbitant interest charges on outstanding accounts have been reported. As have collection attempts on those billed in error.

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        This is what I am afraid of, and opposed to. The profit motive gone bad.
        The only thing private companies should do is build the roads with tax money, and maintain them with tax money. Anything else is a blow to mobility.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Oh man wait till they institute surge pricing!

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    I’m not sure that concrete roads are the answer, at least not after driving 440 in Nashville. The problem isn’t that concrete hasn’t lasted longer (the road has existed with minimal maintenance for about 30 years), it’s that a more difficult dilemma is faced at the end of the surface’s useful life– there is no cheap fix available.

    SUV drivers that choose 20 to 22 inch wheels with 40-ish series tires are no better off.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      I remember driving on the German autobahn to Berlin only a few years after the wall came down, and the concrete payment became coarse and noisy as soon as I crossed into former East Germany. That was because it was the original payment from the 1930s, but there were NO potholes anywhere even after 60 years of traffic and widely varying weather. Concrete is definitely better IF they make it thick enough and give proper curing conditions.

    • 0 avatar
      kefkafloyd

      Concrete roads are definitely not a cure-all, especially in certain parts of the country. If you can “set and forget” the road, concrete can last a very long time. But in areas with frost heave, even the best of concrete can buckle. The only purely concrete road I can recall in the New England area was US Route 5 in West Springfield, and while that road did technically last for 50+ years, its repairs were very tough and expensive. It was finally replaced with an asphalt road a few years ago. Concrete surfaces are used in bridges and ramps

      Striping them is also a bear, and in an area here where you can’t use reflective studs because of snowplows…

      A pothole you can fill like a cavity. A frost-heaved concrete road has to be completely reconstructed, like a crown.

      Concrete also has its own lobby that duels on and off with the asphalt people. Neither of them are “good” in the sense of the word.

      At the end of the day, roads ain’t free. You’re gonna pay for them somehow.

      • 0 avatar

        I84 for several miles east of Hartford is concrete. In general it has held up better but as you mentioned at times you get interesting dips etc from frost heaving. I think there was also a highway in Vermont for a while that was concrete. That one I think had overly large expansion joints that made for a loud ride.

        Frost heaves are fun when i lived in Downeast Maine I once hit one large enough on a backroad surrounded by blueberry fields to launch my toyota pickup into the air at 55 mph.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          There are some concrete sections of I-40 through Albuquerque. My old F150 had just the right wheelbase to get a little bit of a “hobby horse” situation going on hitting the expansion joints.

          Would always make my wife carsick (but she get’s carsick easy.)

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Maine frost heaves are probably why I have an intense hatred of floaty suspensioned cars – completely nausea inducing. And where I learned to pay great attention to the road surface. I went to undergrad Downeast – U. Maine Machias, and was typically setting land speed records with my Jetta GLI. That doesn’t end well when you hit a good frost heave at 75-80.

        • 0 avatar
          kefkafloyd

          You’re right, the area around the I-291 interchange in Manchester has a partial concrete surface (the gaps between the HOV and regular lanes are still asphalt). But I don’t think it’s the same kind of road surface that’s traditionally thought of as a concrete freeway. It’s definitely not as noisy as the stuff I’ve driven on in California or Washington.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        The Maine Turnpike and I-295 where originally concrete. And they frost heaved to H3ll. Torn up and replaced with asphalt, which gets repaved on a 5 year cycle paid for by the tolls.

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    Took my 2016 Mazda6 Touring to Nashville (two hours south of us) this weekend for a Valentine’s getaway with my wife. On the way to eat dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, we hit a gigantic pothole on I-440, going about 65 MPH. My left front factory Dunlop tire was done for. Went to the Nashville Mazda dealer the next day and ended up getting four new Yokohama tires. Thank God my wheel wasn’t bent.

    There were so many potholes, it was impossible to avoid them all. And I saw the one we hit about two seconds before we hit it, but I had no chance to react. There were four other cars pulled over around us, all with flat tires.

    • 0 avatar
      Sobro

      In June TNDOT is letting the contract for a complete rebuild and widening of I-440. Better late than never.

      In some Western states, when they rebuild a freeway from scratch, they pave with asphalt then lay concrete. The asphalt provides a much better water seal and is less flixible under concreted than just compacted road base gravel mix.

      Jack should add one more way to hit a pothole: during heavy rain there are plenty of “birdbaths” in the road which are not new potholes. Until they are. Ask me how I know.

  • avatar
    gtem

    Indy is horrible right now, people are going after the mayor with pitchforks, there was an emergency 4 day “pothole blitz” by the DPW, that fix lasted maybe 2 weeks before more rain washed the patches away. Everyone in town is now educated on “hot mix” vs “cold mix” asphalt patching thanks to all the news stories revolving around the horrid state of urban roads. It’s been hell on cars, many neighbors complaining about having to replace tires and rims. I got to see an ’07-’11 Impala with a failed lower balljoint stranded at an intersection, other disabled vehicles due to blown out tires and such. A few really bad potholes they’ve just stuck temporary road signs in the middle of and hoped for the best. This is on 2 and 3 lane 45mph roads, an unpleasant surprise to fly up on in the dark on a morning commute.

    I feel blessed that my two daily drivers are shod with 235/70R16 (Pilot) and 245/75R16 (4Runner narrow snow winter setup) tires respectively. I consider myself quiet adept at pothole dodging and do so even with my well endowed sidewalls. The 4Runner takes a hit much better than the Pilot btw, just feels bulletproof and “trucky,” shrugs just about everything off, and has a big enough diameter to just roll over many potholes without the wheel dropping down into them as far.

    • 0 avatar
      SirRaoulDuke

      Southern Indiana is no better. I don’t know which is more worrisome: the craters I have to dodge, or the morons riding my bumper than I am sure are going to run me over as I dip and dodge the craters.

    • 0 avatar

      Luckily here in CT even with our budget issues they still fix the potholes pretty quick. They also seem to last at least until a better fix is done in the summer. Some of the town owned roads are pretty bad thou.

  • avatar
    cdotson

    It isn’t only a question of concrete vs. asphalt either. There are multiple methods of laying asphalt roadways as well. In my first job out of engineering school I worked with a designer who had just transferred from a company that made vibratory compactors (colloquially referred to as steam rollers). For every model they made there were two versions you had to select: high amplitude or high frequency, referring to the speed at which the eccentric weight created vibratory force to compact the fresh asphalt.

    In the US companies invariably chose high frequency. These rollers swung the eccentric weight faster so the roller could travel along the road at a higher speed. If the roller travels too far for every swing of the eccentric you get somewhat of a washboard road profile, so HF/LA compactors were critical to cranking out more paved miles. The problem with high frequency was the eccentric weight had to weigh less or it would destroy the bearings. This forces the asphalt layer to be thinner to allow proper compaction.

    In Europe they invariably choose high amplitude which swings a heaver weight slowly. They compact a thicker roadway more slowly. This produces superior water handing and roadway durability.

    Additionally this behavior translated into soil compaction. Soil compacted with HA/LF compactors produces superior road beds, which is critical for asphalt roadways as the sand/gravel bed is the actual road while the asphalt is merely the wear-resistant surface.

    The industry also had a poignant term for ultra-thin asphalt layers put down speedily every other late summer: election-year repaving. Utterly useless waste of money intended to re-elect local incumbents.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      Thanks for the very informative comment – I’ve wondered why European roads seem to hold up so much better than US roads.

    • 0 avatar
      turf3

      Cool, I have just learned something about which I had no idea!

    • 0 avatar
      IBx1

      This is the kind of information more people should know. Unfortunately, we cannot convince politicians and most of the public that spending more time and money on the proper method once is better than going cheap (with contractors that will invariably go over time and over budget) multiple times on crappy work. I love a fresh asphalt road for how smooth and quiet they are, and I know there has to be a way to do it right.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Thanks.

    • 0 avatar

      Interesting here in New England I have noticed base prep various widely by state and locality. Some are much more through then others. Here in CT new roads aren’t common and most old ones are just milled and repaved depending on use. In Maine I once saw a road get torn down after some severe frost heaving down 2 ft with a new base. That was a bit crazy but likley the right way to do it.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        A frost heave is often due to a localized pocket of clay and the only way to prevent it from heaving year after year is to dig it all out. That can entail having to go down a lot deeper than 2 feet.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      Informative

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Interesting. When I moved to Oregon, Hwy 99 between Corvallis and Eugene was like driving on the moon. After a couple trips I swore I’d never drive it again. Couple years later they repaved it, with asphalt, and 20+ years later it’s still in excellent shape. I’m guessing they spent a little more to do it right, well worth it.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      My New Zealand friend refers to asphalt roads as “sealed”. I am assuming that is common term there.

    • 0 avatar
      whynotaztec

      Very interesting. A roller going too fast then is probably responsible for a little stretch of road on my daily commute that makes me think my suspension has an issue.
      Curious what you think of recycle in place paving. A road near me got it about 6 yrs ago now and it’s holding up well (Boston area)
      Conversely a nearby road was rebuilt from the base up about 17 years ago and the top paved layer is coming apart constantly and has been for several years now.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      I thought that the roller itself provided all the weight!

      Interesting!

  • avatar
    turf3

    Oh, by the way, just try to slow down a bit for a giant pothole, and watch how everyone behind you absolutely goes batsh!t! Sorry, bud, but it is not my responsibility to damage my car so you don’t have to get to your destination 11 seconds later.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Not only will I always choose the smalles diameter rim I can get I would ask a dealer for a downgrade in size if the option package I choose forces a rim upgrade.

    I will say that my old Cutlass took the potholes of Detroit well but the rims were a lowly 14 in

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Those wondering about the efficacy of a strong central government should consider what happened in Britain after the Romans left.

    Or just watch this clip from The Life of Brian.

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    WTH. Even in a climate that’s perfect for tarmac, I guess Cali. government doesn’t spend enough to keep the roads in good condition.

    At least around me, the government has a half-lame excuse, 50 degree swings in the freeze-thaw cycle.

    (not saying that a Libertarian government would be better. just that if you want to convince undecided voters that more government is good, lead by example. if government can’t upkeep something relatively straightforward as keeping smooth roads, no hope that things more complex}

  • avatar
    tonyola

    I studied civil engineering in college during the 1970s/1980s. One thing that I learned was that one overloaded heavy truck can do more damage to a roadway than 100,000 cars.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Ohio; “At least our roads aren’t as bad as Michigan’s”.

  • avatar

    This comes down to the sidewall pinch. The right hole, or hit at the right angle, and you pinch the sidewall with a pronounced “wham” to the suspension. Wheel bends and you bubble. The hardest part is often you can’t even see the pothole if it raining/full of water, or if you see it, you can’t avoid due to traffic- BOOM –

    I blame the Germans. Driving in Germany, there are NO potholes…repeat, there are NO potholes. They just assume that 35 sidewalls will live in the real world. They also don’t have huge camber changes or storm drains and manhole covers in, or on, the roadway. I love how all my roads here in NY have drains on the left side of the “fast’ lane. Double BOOM. A raised or lowered drain or manhole can do more damage than a mere hole.

    I took the staggered 17 inch tires off my BMW, and went back to a set of 225/50 x 16 for winter use. Once the potholes were all filled in, May usually, then and only then did the low profiles go back. I see a lot of non enthusiast types with 20 inch tires…the wrong equipment for the wrong user in the wrong environment.

    This directly pushes folks to SUV. The roads in my area are sufficiently three dimensional that the clearance of an SUV, bigger tires, and overall lower speeds combine to make this the rational choice for many….

  • avatar
    gasser

    Los Angeles commenting. No snow, no freeezing, less rain than spit and still crappy, pot holed roads. In the last ten years on the wife’s car (245/45 18s) three rims bent so badly, replaced, 5 Michelin Sport 3 A/S tires (pinched side walls and one blow out) and a new set of ball joints. This is with 95% city, not freeway, driving. L.A. is so broke it wants a $3B bond issue for street repair, which used to be a regular budget item.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Up here we don’t get a lot of freeze/thaw cycles, so the number of potholes is much fewer. But they still happen. Usually I can avoid them, but I had one hit each in my G8 GXP (245/40R19) and my LS460 (235/50R18) that I really thought would end a tire or damage the wheel. Somehow I ended up lucky and everything survived both hits. Or maybe unlucky in the G8’s case, since the pothole didn’t give me a reason to get rid of the horrible Eagle RS-As early.

    I really wish my LX570 had come with the 18″ wheels that were available in Russia and the Middle East instead of the mandatory 20s (with 285/50 tires) on US-spec cars. I don’t think an off-road truck even looks right with the big wheels. Toyota Tundra 18s fit, but I’d really like the appearance to be OEM.

    http://automiddleeast.com/wp-content/uploads/buyersguide/2008-lexus-lx-570.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Since you’re not in a hurry to change you could always take the slow and steady route to finding new wheels. Search until you actually find something you like the looks of.

      My mother-in-law has 20 in rims on her Acadia SLT (every option save AWD) and I’ve already ribbed her about how much replacement tires are going to cost her.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I do check eBay and Mud every few days to see if someone happens to be selling a set of those 18s, but they’re very rare in North America.

        The weird challenge with Tundra/Land Cruiser/LX wheels is that every style has its own different center cap that won’t fit on the other styles. So if you get a Toyota wheel style you’re stuck with Toyota-logo center caps. I’m just ana! enough to want a Lexus logo on the cap.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          Have you seen if there are different diameters of Lexus cap? (From the whole Lexus lineup) or is Toyota actually using the same size (XX mm) caps on all Lexus vehicles?

          The Toyota center caps on my Highlander are losing the silver paint on the cap (chrome “T” is holding up fine) and I’ve looked at replacements but I was having trouble finding a source online that actually lists the mm diameter of the stock caps.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            A lot of Toyotas and Lexuses with the 5×114.3 bolt pattern use standard round 62 mm center caps, including at least some Highlander wheel styles (don’t know whether yours is among them). If that is what your Highlander has then you’ll find a billion replacements on eBay. The best way to know for sure is to measure with a millimeter ruler.

            The 5×150 wheels on the Tundra/LC/LX are a different story. They use big center caps that go beyond the hub to partially overlap the lug nuts, and each wheel style has a dedicated center cap with topography styled to match the wheel. This is the one that matches the stock wheels on my truck:

            https://www.ebay.com/itm/08-13-OEM-NEW-LEXUS-LX570-CENTER-WHEEL-CENTER-CAP-GUNMETAL-CHROME-EMBLEM-09-10/132336460085

  • avatar
    rpn453

    When replacing tires, there’s almost always room for more sidewall.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    I do kinda miss sidewalls. No Profile ™ tires are best left in Germany.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    “Gabriel, calm down!”

    bahahah, oh Gabriel.

    Most of his panic is most likely due to the general belief that when a car catches fire it will explode with dynamite force like in movies. The first time I beat a car so relentlessly that it burst into flames, I was thoroughly underwhelmed.

    • 0 avatar
      Sub-600

      I get a kick out of ‘70s reruns like ‘Emergency!’ and ‘CHiPS’. If a stray shopping cart hits a car it bursts into flames, lol. You could push 100 cars off a cliff and maybe one might explode, on these shows they all go up like there was a pound of C-4 in the trunk. I like Squad 51 though, ‘72 D-300 with a 440 for those quick response times.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Texas seems to be full of concrete and in my travels those are the WORST roads. Concrete tends to develop cracks which cause it to break into puzzle piece like sections so instead of a random pothole here and there you have these random size chunks tilted at various angles. Concrete also requires expansion joints thus you get an automatic weak point and gap every so often anyway. I swear there is not a flat, level, straight piece of concrete in the DFW area… its terrible.

    All these low profile tires can’t be helping. While SUVs are rolling on lower and lower sidewalls it appears even normal sedans basically have rubber bands mounted up these days. I saw some random 4 door Audi in traffic the other day that appear to have 25 series stock tires.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      You’re right about concrete roads. No matter how well the slabs hold together, the ground cooperates (especially in Texas). Misaligned seams will always been an issue, and on the rare occasion an interstate or major highway has a broken slab, it cannot be fixed by wedging asphalt into the damaged area. The slab must be replaced or repaired, and the concrete needs time to cure. Not optimal.

      DFW has plenty of good concrete roads, built to the standards Jack describes. The bad roads are probably more attributable to our civic arrangement than to concrete. Texas is basically an affiliation of city-states, welded together by pride. In other words, when the social justice jag-offs infiltrate Dallas, and turn it into a pothole, Dallas is left to fall apart. There is no overbearing state government that dumps taxpayer money into the failing metropolises so they appear to work. Instead, business migrate, and the state will often help businesses flee by building roads and other infrastructure in competent localities.

      That’s why the center of DFW isn’t really Dallas, Fort Worth or the interstates that connect to the two cities. The new commercial center of DFW is now the Sam Rayburn Tollway which hosts Toyota HQ, Pepsi HQ, Dr. Pepper Snapple HQ, etc. In the new commercial center of DFW, infrastructure is private, with easy access to DFW airport, and it runs through the competently-managed premier suburbs of Southlake, Frisco, Plano, and McKinney. All of those cities have excellent concrete roads.

      Houston has a similar phenomenon with many businesses fleeing northward to find relief in the master-planned municipality of The Woodlands.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Concrete roads are not as nice as asphalt in good condition, but overall they stand up to abuse better, especially over time and with heavy loads.

      The City of Seattle has tons and tons of concrete streets that were first paved in the post-WW2 years and haven’t been redone since. Every now and then you’ll see cracked-off sections and displaced slabs, but the asphalt streets of the same age have basically dissolved.

      We also have started replacing all our asphalt with concrete on the streets that see very frequent bus service (every 15 minutes or less all day). Asphalt streets are only holding up for a few years under the load of 80-100 daily buses, but the concrete just sits there and takes it.

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        Not redone since post WW2 years? That would explain the highly exposed aggregate and the high road noise I experienced last time I was there. Impressive that they have held up all these years.

  • avatar
    TW5

    Texas is toll road heaven. It’s not a perfect system, in fact it will get on your nerves from time to time, but it helps us avoid many of the congestion pitfalls of sprawl. Roads are well maintained, and public officials tend to make sure the public has a free alternative to the tollroad nearby. Public/private investment in Texas seem to be relatively free of corruption, too, but that’s quite easy in a state that’s growing rapidly. Of course, we build a taxpayer subsidized tollroad to nowhere occasionally, but it’s been a decent system overall, and toll roads are far more dependable than relying on the feds to build anything. The I-69 corridor in South Texas is STILL not complete.

    Regarding society as a whole, the average American safeguards against nothing other than his own happiness and success, which seems to be brought on by a sort of self-defeating, normative existentialism. The limitations of this world are bigoted. I’m not going to comply. I’m not going to be a man or a woman. I’m going to choose from 36 (or whatever) different choices on the gender spectrum. I shouldn’t be responsible for my own health and healthcare. I should be able to walk into any public institution and find people whose sole purpose is to save my life at no marginal cost. I shouldn’t have to think about my own security. Cops should be willing to jump in front of bullets for me like I’m the ruler of the free world. I shouldn’t have to focus on boring accounting/finance theory. Everything about life should be condensed into a short-term budgetary function dominated by monthly payments. In some ways this is the great strength of the US, but it’s also our greatest weakness.

    The pothole story is an example. 50 years ago sedans had a foot of sidewall to deal with bad roads or unpaved roads. Today, people would rather snap their car in two, than drive a sedan with sidewall and floaty suspension. In any other country, the people who refuse to conform to the basic limitations of life would be relentlessly mocked, but in the US, they wave a stack of dollars and a loan contract around. The corporations come running from every corner of the globe to make pothole proof wheels and tires.

    America is the uneasy relationship we have with our own psychotic behavior. Where do we draw the line?

  • avatar

    I pinch flatted a tire (with an unrepairable crack at the shoulder of the tire) at the beginning of winter, but I really needed to replace both OEM fronts due to wear, so I bought a couple of used tires just to get through the winter. A couple of days ago I noticed bulges in the sidewall, which probably mean broken belts/cords.

    Now the question, being that it’s already the end of February, do I get two new all season tires, or get four Direzzas for fun in the summer, which would then necessitate an equal expenditure for winter tires next fall? I’d be risking late winter snow on the Direzzas.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      185/60R15? I’d get new set of winter-capable all-seasons in either 185/65R15, 195/60R15, or 195/65R15, depending on wheel/fender/strut fitment and limitations, and preferences. Obviously 195/60 will be the best handling in the dry, 185/65 will provide the best traction in winter and best fuel economy, while 195/65 would provide the best isolation and impact protection.

      The new BFG Advantage T/A Sport is available in all those sizes and looks like it would dig snow well. The Uniroyal AWP3, General RT43, and Pirelli P4 are available in most of those sizes too.

      Then, a second set of winters in the fall, or whenever the all-seasons are worn enough to be designated summer-only tires.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    And this is why my F150 wears the standard 17 inch wheels with 70 series tires and the chrome covers on the alloys and not the 20s. The tires can take it and damage to the “wheel” means replacing a cheap cover.

  • avatar
    s_a_p

    Best de la soul song ever.

  • avatar
    Germanicevich

    Potholes are a fact of life, same as debris, 4’x8′ plywood sheets, large aluminum ladders, rugs (rolled up or flat), occasional appliances and weaving fellow drivers. All merrily sharing the highways. Being 62 years old with a slight handicap in my right arm, full lock maneuvers done with lightning reflexes is not a choice. What I trained myself to do is; focus in the vehicle ahead of me ALL THE TIME, keeping a 2-3 seconds distance (if I’m cut off, I brake immediately to re-establish the gap) and most importantly, avoid TARGET FIXATION. This is a counter-intuitive reaction: fixing your eyes on the EMPTY SPACE around the obstacle because if you look at it, chances are that you’ll hit the pothole. Boring but true.

    • 0 avatar
      turf3

      You would be a lot better off if you stopped focusing on the vehicle ahead of you “ALL THE TIME” and instead looked ahead of the vehicle ahead of you.

      You would also drive a lot better if, instead of focusing on one thing “ALL THE TIME”, you were constantly scanning from near distance to far distance, checking mirrors, scanning to the side, etc.

      Focusing on the vehicle directly ahead is what causes rubber-band slowdowns along with a loss of situational awareness and tunnel vision. Spend some time commuting by bicycle on city streets and you learn about this stuff. Riding in a paceline too. If you are 3″ from the rear tire of the guy in front of you, it is absolutely impossible to react to changes in his speed if you are watching his tire. Paceline riders watch what’s happening two, three, four, or more riders ahead in the pack.

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  • NoID: “Automakers aren’t being required to spend money to make every vehicle fuel-efficient, but rather, to...

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