If a theme color were designated for the summer months, it would undoubtedly be orange. In a time when everyone is hurrying to get their summer road trips off to a quick start, most streets and highways are flooded with the familiar orange warning signs. Whether it’s detours, potholes, men working, or anything in between, it’s important to stay knowledgeable about what you might encounter and how it can affect your car during this season of construction.
Tires & Suspension
Roads in construction zones can often be left in a bumpy, sometimes treacherous state that affects parts of your vehicle that are already susceptible to damage. If you know you’ll be traveling through construction zones on your trip, ensure that your tires are in good shape. A slow leak can quickly become a flat, and a weak, old tire can quickly become a blowout if you hit a piece of equipment or debris. And a blowout could leave you stranded in an unsafe place, or even cause an accident!
Before you head out, it is also important to check that your tire suspension is in tact. With misaligned tires, every bump in the road can throw your car’s balance and suspension off. Since your tires are struggling to maintain grip, your car has a more difficult time controlling and more importantly, stopping.
Potholes can be anywhere. While the damage of a pothole is contingent upon the speed and impact with which it’s hit, the damage can affect the tires, cause fluid leaks and bent rims (especially if your vehicle is newer and they are aluminum-based) or even destroy your exhaust system. If you hear strange noises coming from your exhaust, it’s a definite sign that you need to have it checked out.
Chips & Dings
Road construction often leaves small pieces of rocks and debris which get sent through the air from one vehicle to the next. There are aesthetic implications of this (namely paint chipping and small dents), but the more important one is windshield dents. While they may not always be large, it’s always best to take care of them as soon as possible to avoid the crack to deepen and spread.
The reality is that we often assume that we are not at risk as much during the summer because the weather is nice and we assume that we can quickly correct any driving mistakes to avoid an accident. And the fact is, as the Center for Disease Control reports, about 750 people have died each year from 1982 to 2014 in work zone-related vehicle accidents. None of us is truly safe until all of us are safely driving.
While nothing but careful driving with laser focus on the road, the signs, and the people working can prevent this, it’s always good to be reminded that accidents can (and often do) occur at places with the most warning signs. They’re orange for a reason.