One sign the pothole problem in Europe is increasing is when researchers come up with new and novel ways of managing them. In this case, it involves brightly colored asphalt.
In Europe, potholes are no less a problem than in the U.S. Roads built there before and after World War II are reaching the latter stages of their expected lifespan, and money is lacking to keep up on repairs.
The website WhatCar.com reports that motorists in the U.K. are spending £3 million per day on car damage caused by potholes. Average repair bills per car include £277 for wheels and tires and £312 for suspension work. On the heels of a particularly bad winter in the 2010-2011 winter, the country has added an additional £100 million ($159 million US) to fund road repairs. (These numbers are roughly comparable with the costs of pothole damage to cars in America, it should be noted.)
Finding potholes would not seem to be the problem, what with cars sustaining so much damage as they ply their way across the roads, straßen, straten, rues, strade, ulice, gator, utcákon, улицы, δρόμους, and strydoedd* of Europe. But at least one preventive measure being pursued is toward early detection of road wear through a color-coded system.
Automotive website Caradisiac.com reports that Italian researchers are testing a way to put in a fluorescent yellow layer just under the top layer of asphalt. As a road wears or when cracks develop, the yellow will appear as a sign that asks for a repair on that precise spot. Presumably, road repair crews can simply drive the highways and byways, looking for the yellow color.
“The idea is not to propose an invincible tarmac (pavement),” says the site. “But rather to prevent potholes that form due to wear and time.” Early detection of fissures and other breaks in pavement can prevent larger and more expensive problems from developing when those nascent potholes are filled or otherwise repaired with sealants.
Presumably, the neon yellow also serves as warning to motorists before the pothole is actually repaired.
*”roads” as translated into the languages of Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Czech Republic, Sweden, Hungary, Russia, Greece and Wales.