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Potholes pose many threats to drivers and vehicle safety. Potholes have been known to cause blowouts, car accidents, and cracked wheels. Unfortunately, many potholes appear minor and unthreatening. A pothole may look like a small puddle of water, yet it could actually be hiding a 12-inch-deep cavern in the middle of the road. To the dismay of drivers, the tiny puddle becomes a life-threatening, dangerous obstacle in traffic. However, Google has plans to help drivers avoid potholes and their dangers.

Google’s Self-Driving Car Project

Google has spent the past few years working on an autonomous car to improve driver safety. If a car is driving itself, it brings up an interesting point. Will the blind be able to drive? Well, Google’s self-driving car is still in the stages of research and development, and driving blindly appears to be one the stage of the future. In the present, Google has made plans to use the GPS of currently-driving, modern cars to detect potholes.


Detecting Potholes

Google has recently filed a patent on a new, pothole-detecting technology. When a vehicle hits a pothole, the technology will log the pothole’s location and upload the information to a central server. This information will then be transferred to route planning and navigation tools to help drivers avoid dangerous, pothole-laden roads. The technology will be applied to the self-driving car concept to automatically correct the steering column and let Google’s self-driving cars to drive easier.

After Hitting a Pothole…

When a car hits a pothole, it causes a sudden jerk in the steering column. The pothole may cause the tire to start leaking air, come off the rim, or explode. Unfortunately, this may lead to loss of control of the vehicle, which may cause an accident. Additionally, the vehicle’s steering alignment can be thrown off, and the driver may have a difficult time keeping the vehicle in the proper lane. If an accident does occur, the driver will be held at-fault for failing to maintain control over the vehicle. As a result, the driver gets a ticket, the car is damaged, and the pothole is waiting to take another victim.

Applying the Technology Beyond Potholes

The new technology offers a solution to other problems as well. For example, the technology could be used to detect rough patches of road, significant bumps, or other indicators of poor road quality. As a result, drivers could be warned of upcoming changes in road types. Furthermore, this technology could become of great importance when driving during poor weather conditions, such as flooded roads, deteriorating bridges, and patches of ice.

Many cities and counties often rely on complaints to identify potholes. Google’s new technology could even be used to automatically report the presence of a pothole to the proper authorities.

So Many Roads, So Many Vehicles

Most modern vehicles have access to the Internet for use in the vehicle’s GPS. Since the number of vehicles with this technology has grown so large, Google can literally use each vehicle as a data-gathering machine. This represents the first large-scale collection of data for determining the safety of the nation’s roads. Furthermore, more vehicles on the roads means roads will be susceptible to weathering more quickly, which will create more potholes.

Last winter, the nation saw an unprecedented amount of snowfall in the North. Snow and ice are two of primary forces contributing to the development of potholes and poor road conditions. As winter approaches once again, Google is trying to keep the pothole-bringing weather at bay by making sure drivers know where potholes and dangerous roads lie.

Ultimately, drivers have the primary responsibility of staying safe while on the road. Potholes, debris, and poor roads have the potential to cause wrecks, injuries, and other problems for drivers. However, Google’s plans will dramatically change how much responsibility a driver has in avoiding these obstacles. Until the technology is ready, you can take advantage of traffic school courses, such as defensive driving, to learn more ways to stay safe on the road. If you have received a traffic ticket, a defensive driving course may be able to keep your insurance rates from going up, keep points off your driving record, and have the ticket dismissed. Until tomorrow’s cars let drivers drive blind, you have the responsibility of driving safely.