Road Quality


Holes in the roadway, potholes, are not only a nuisance, but can damage vehicles, lead to accidents and bring high costs to the society. Potholes vary greatly in size and shape and occur on mud roads, asphalt roads, brick roads alike.

Underlying causes

Potholes are formed when ground water freezes and melts. When the water freezes it expands, which will then cause displacement of the underlying road materials. When the ice melts again, the material contracts and leaves gaps and voids. When this happens over and over again the roadbed is greatly displaced and a weak spot will form in the roadway. When heavy vehicles pass above this weak spot the paving will eventually break and a pothole is formed. Because of this underlying freezing-melting cycle, potholes are most commonly formed in the spring when the temperature frequently fluctuates around the freezing point.

Why are potholes a problem?

Potholes can be a great nuisance when driving/riding a vehicle, that's obvious to anyone that has experienced them. Apart from bringing discomfort, they increase noise and lead to increased wear on the vehicles, especially the tires, with high maintenance costs as a result. Broken tires mean pollution.

Occurrance of potholes can also lead to dangerous accidents when cars get out of control, either trying to avoid the potholes, or after running into them with a possible flat tire as result.


Current situation

The extent of pothole problems worldwide is hard to determine. According to the WHO, road traffic injuries was the 9th most common cause of death globally in 2012 and the projection is that it will be nr 7 in 2030. As mentioned, occurance of potholes is one contributing factor to these road accidents, injuries and deaths. As an example, during 2017 potholes caused more than 3500 deaths in India alone.

Also global costs for potholes are hard to determine, but it's clear that potholes cost the society enormous amounts of money. Early detection of potholes is important as it is much cheaper to fix the roads at an early stage. It has been estimated that failure to spend 1 USD in road repair typically results in 7 USD of costs five years later (REF).