Has the Summer Weather Affected the UK’s Roads?
While we have been able to enjoy some prolonged sunshine this summer, we has also been prone to bouts of exceptionally heavy rainfall, with many areas around the country suffering from frustrating flash floods.
The wet weather may have disrupted more than a fair few summer plans, but what impact has it had on the UK’s roads?
This month, we’re taking a look at how the wet weather affects the roads across the UK, as well as the impact of rain on the many road markings which help to keep the roads safe for all drivers.
We’ve come to expect at least a bit of rain even during the height of summer here in the UK, but sometimes it can feel like the summer is barely here at all. While some areas were luckier than others, rain was a regular threat from June to August for many regions, and while the roads of the UK are normally braced for rainfall, it is the presence of excess water that makes things more complicated.
The worst case scenario when it comes to rainfall is widespread flooding, and flash floods caused major disruption to traffic in some areas over the summer, including the South East, the Midlands and parts of Wales. Heavy rain and excess rainfall can have a dramatic effect on tarmac roads, especially older surfaces which are already in need of repair or maintenance.
Standing water will infiltrate into the road surface, through already present cracks or via the pavement, and will eventually lower the durability of the base material, causing the road surface to weaken the more it is used. This will lead to the formation of potholes – every driver’s worst enemy – and the affected surface will need to be repaired. With normal rainfall, this shouldn’t be a constant problem, but it is one that will be accelerated by flooding – especially prolonged flooding.
Of course, if the road surface hasn’t been resurfaced or repaired in the recent past, heavy rain will be an even greater threat to the road surface; already weakened roadways will be more susceptible to cracks and collapse, due to their diminished strength and load capacity.
Road markings in the rain
Rain is an obvious cause of disruption on the roads, reducing visibility and making general driving conditions much more troublesome. The road markings used throughout our road network are designed to maintain safety in all conditions, even during the rain. Generally, modern road markings will not see great wear from the rain, but older markings can become faded over time.
This, like with road surfaces themselves, will be accelerated by excess rain and standing water from floods. The high durability of thermoplastic markings means road markings can stay easily visible and in good condition for long periods at a time, but eventually they will need repainting, and water can be a primary cause.
Water-based road markings are more susceptible to the rain directly after application, so the drying process is important to their future durability. Weakened road markings will dilute faster, becoming faded and worn much quicker, making them much less effective.
Rain can influence thermoplastic road markings during the bonding process, as the materials will fail to bond with the road surface in wet conditions, which is why it is always best to lay road markings when it’s dry.
In the past, some road marking materials weren’t suitable for wet conditions, mainly due to poor skid resistance, but the presence of glass beads in thermoplastic road markings means the majority of road markings across the UK are designed to provide high levels of safety, even in the wet.
The British summer rain definitely had its say this year, and flash floods no doubt spurred on the repair of more than a few road surfaces across the country. Luckily, modern road markings themselves are built to last, and while heavy flooding will have temporarily reduced their visibility, serious wear will take years to become a factor.
Of course, older markings – especially on weaker roads – are more prone to fade and wear, so it is vitally important that road markings are regularly maintained and repainted to keep them constantly visible and effective at all times.
Road Marking Services are proud to be one of the UK’s leading road marking contractors, providing professional and efficient marking services to a wide range of clients. We use the latest technology and finest materials to ensure the highest possible standards every time. If you need to improve the quality of your current markings – or need markings for your new surface, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team to find out more.