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Spring Cleaning Doesn't Often Include The Roads You Use

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If you don't get your oil changed regularly, or keep your tires properly inflated, your car or truck won't perform as well as it could. Some construction has likely already hampered your daily driving, but one group argues that America isn't doing enough to provide proper routine maintenance for the nation's highways and byways.

Defensive driving is going to be even more of a necessity if the report "Road Work Ahead" is to be believed. The authors note that 90,000 miles of highway are in poor condition as well as 70,000 bridges that are dangerously close to not providing the necessary support for motorists' vehicles. They use the collapse of the I-35 bridge near Minneapolis as a sign of what can happen in absolute worst case scenarios.

The authors argue that it is easier for a politician to sell his or her constituents on the idea of a new project than putting money into old works. Like spring cleaning or car maintenance, it lacks the prestige to really stir people into action. It makes sense to tie federal funding, the source of most road construction funds, to the repair and renovation of existing roads, considering that they are the lion's share of what people travel on each day. Until groups get the ear of the right legislator, changed may not be made on policy, however.

That means that drivers will need to keep their eyes on the newspapers or televisions to keep track of the best and worst-kept roads in their area. It also can help to pay attention to road noise: rough roads can be more bumpy or sound different than well-paved highways. They are worth avoiding to ensure your car performs well, and another tool for many motorists' defensive driving tool kits.

At the same time, it's likely that you will still see some form of construction. In spite of the fact that most states have budget deficits ranging in the millions to even billions of dollars, many of them are still using the warmer months to complete needed projects. And that could lead to a lot of problems for drivers who now have to adapt to a variety of circumstances.

As a personal example, I drive on a 40 mile per hour road on a daily basis. There are no signs listing it, but two days ago I was shocked as traffic dropped from 40 to 15 MPH in less than an eighth of a mile. Had I not been paying attention, I could have rear-ended someone. It was my fault for being lulled into highway hypnosis, but it's not an isolated occurrence.

And the summer is the time for distraction, with construction adding to kids being out of school. Add the poor road conditions in areas with poor government support and you could benefit from brushing up on the basics in an online traffic school course: it's always good to remember that when you travel 55 MPH, that is the equivalent of driving 88 feet per second, or more than four car lengths. It helps to bring home how important it can be to prepare for unexpected events.