Extreme heat has had an effect on all of our lives. The issue is a global one, but It’s common practice in today’s society for one to be concerned with how said issue affects us as an individual. It’s easy to simply start discussing these topics, but this is a commuting article. So let’s start discussing how these extreme high temps have manifested into our commuting lives. Also, let’s look the hidden danger of how the heat can potentially cause a disastrous commute.
On Sept. 6, Highway 101 south, before the 156 merge, the highway rose up 3 feet. The frightening part about this is several semi drivers ran over the hazard and almost lost their loads. No one was hurt, and surprisingly there were no accidents. The scene was described by Caltrans as “the ground is protruding straight up 3 feet.”
Let’s think about this. On this day it was extremely hot. This was also during the height of commuting hours. This was not a gradual lifting of the highway. This happened relatively quickly. In short, a “Dukes of Hazard” moment occurred, projecting semis’ into the air, and no one was hurt. As it turns out, Caltrans assessed the situation, reopened one lane and began to feverishly repair the damage.
The theory behind this weird phenomenon is the road crosses over a fault line, and there have been several small earthquakes in the area lately. Couple this with unusually high temperatures, and the loosened soil beneath the highway expands upward. Again we were fortunate not to have any traffic incidents.
Another danger that lurks during higher temperatures, the potential of tire blowouts. I have mentioned here several times; average commute speeds are between 75-85 miles per hour. What most commuters today do not think about is how temperature affects one’s tires. Despite the outside temperature, merely the friction of tires on the road raises tire pressure 2-5 degrees.
Now, consider this scenario. In high temperatures the pavement is in the neighborhood of 150 degrees. In these conditions your tires have expanded due to road heat and friction. Driving 75-85 miles per hour, your tires are under a high level stress, and vulnerable to a blowout. As one enters a curve tires are under additional duress. In a split, unsuspecting moment, lives can be changed. For this reason, I urge all fellow commuters to take it down a notch or two.
If you take note of your commute path, there is a large number of semi tire fragments along the roadside. This number is unusually high compared the occasional blowout. Truckers drive a higher number of miles, and stress their tires daily from the weight and distance. As a commuter don’t shrug off this thought like it can’t happen to you. Yes, it can and does happen to commuters.
I’ll end this with two actions we can take to prevent an accident, slow down and do not tailgate. These two things can actually help us reach our destination safely. Best to you all.