Heat Wave? Watch Out For Road Buckling

June 26, 2009
mirage -- by Flickr user AWNISAlan, Creative Commons

mirage -- by Flickr user AWNISAlan, Creative Commons

Most of us have heard about the hazardous conditions inside a vehicle that can develop in hot weather—and that you should never, ever leave a child or pet unattended in a vehicle when the sun's out. But unbeknownst to us, there's another significant issue out on the roadways themselves, and it could cause hazardous driving conditions: road buckling.

Before you dismiss road buckling as a phenomenon alongside quicksand and spontaneous combustion, the insurance company State Farm warns that it's a real danger. According to insurer, having temps rise above 90 degrees for several days can lead to sudden buckling of the road surface, with little or no advance warning. Just today, the National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Warning for parts of Arkansas and Oklahoma and Heat Advisories for Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas.

In fact, a quick Google News search revealed several recent accidents caused by buckling—mostly in the Midwest where temps have soared this week. Who knew?

You heard it here. To help stay safe in the heat, State Farm gives these five tips:

  • Try to limit your travel to roads you know very well. That knowledge could keep you from hitting a buckled section of road and seriously damaging your car.
  • When driving at night, try to drive on well-lit roads so you can see the road surface. Once again, it's probably a good idea to limit your travel to roads you know very well.
  • Slow down. Give yourself a chance to see the impacted pavement and avoid it.
  • If you hit buckled pavement, carefully inspect your tires and wheels for possible damage. Note how your car handles in the aftermath. If it "pulls" or you feel a wobble in the steering, you may need to have your car checked out by a mechanic.
  • If you're unable to avoid buckled pavement, brake before impact. There's less damage when a tire is rolling than when it is skidding over an impacted area during braking.
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