HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Drivers always need to be cautious on the road during wet or icy conditions; however, open grade friction course asphalt, a tool used by the Alabama Department of Transportation, is making some roadways in Huntsville safer.
“Basically the way it works is due to the size and make up of the aggregate, it’s more porous so open graded friction course is water permeable and it allows water to pass through it and drain off better than your typical road surface,” said Alabama Department of Transportation’s Public Information Officer, Seth Burkett.
This special asphalt gives your tires better traction regardless of the weather conditions. ALDOT started using this kind of asphalt on highways and interstates to help lower the chance of hydroplaning.
“We use it in certain types of conditions on the interstate where you have a lot of traffic in a large area where you could have water pooling and traffic’s moving at a high speed,” said Burkett. “We also might use it in some areas where you do have water collecting or standing on the road or a problem with hydroplaning.”
Even though it is safer, you won`t find the black top on every road. Officials say it is more expensive and lasts for less time.
“It’s not ideal for every situation,” said Burkett. “There is some variation in cost and lifespan. It’s not necessarily financially sound or the wisest use of tax payer dollars.”
Officials say the problem is not necessarily always the road. Drivers needs to know they should reduce their speed and drive appropriately for the conditions.
“The problem is not necessarily that the road needs to be better or made of some different material; the problem is usually driver error. Drivers are the cause of almost all crashes and their behavior is really what needs to change in order to prevent wrecks,” said Burkett.