Tech Stuff

Road work can be a good thing

Along, seemingly endless line of orange barrels or concrete barriers on a highway is never a pretty sight. It generally translates into traffic backups and longer commute times. However, there’s a bright side to this often aggravating scenario, with regard to demand for automotive repair.

Let’s face it: There are simply too many drivers on today’s roads who aren’t qualified to pull a little red wagon down their own driveways, let along steer a several-thousand-pound lethal weapon along public thoroughfares.

I’ve noticed many drivers who seem to be intimidated by construction barriers. Even though their designated lane is completely open, it’s common to see folks attempt to travel as far away from these barriers as possible, as if their intended path of travel had been squeezed off to the point where their vehicle won’t fit inside the lane. As a result, they straddle the lane marker, with the side of the vehicle opposite the barrier running on the berm. This is exactly where road debris tends to collect, which means that they stand a much higher chance of puncturing a tire or tossing a piece of scrap or a load of wet gravel inside the wheelwell, potentially damaging a steering component or axle. The berm of the road may also feature an off-camber angle designed for water run-off, which means that the driver is unwittingly counter-steering to compensate. This can lead to long-term tire wear and added stress on suspension and steering components and joints.

This fear of barriers also leads many drivers to continually correct their steering. When they feel that they’re too close to a barrier, they steer away in fear, then back, then away, etc. This continual bit-by-bit weaving action only leads to increased tire wear, as they scrub tread rubber and increase tire temperature. It may not seem like much at the time, but over the long haul, tire life will be diminished. This “nibbling” of the steering wheel also accelerates wear on the steering tie rod joints.

There also are far too many morons who insist on speeding through construction sites, oblivious to the danger they pose to road workers. These clowns eventually contribute to your brake service profits, the result of having to slam on their brakes when they reach an eventual back-up of traffic.

While seemingly endless road construction continues to annoy the traveling masses, it’s potentially good news for automotive repair and tire shops, thanks to drivers who simply don’t think.

The next time you pass by a road crew, offer a nod of thanks. They’re indirectly putting cash in your coffers. ●

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