Washboard Road - how to drive it
A washboard road is a dirt or gravel road with ridges running perpendicular to the roadway that are caused by acceleration and deceleration of vehicles. These ridges resemble the texture of a washboard and are usually found in and just before sharp turns, and at locations in the road where vehicles would accelerate (approaching and on a hill) and decelerate (before a stop sign or cross road).
The problem with washboard surfaces is that they tend to shake up the driver and vehicle. They're a pain in the rear.
At higher speeds they can cause you to lose control because they create a form of hydroplaning even when the road surface is perfectly dry. This "dry hydroplaning" is caused by the rough surface which minimizes contact with the road combined with loose material on the road.
Here are suggestions for handling a washboard surface for both safety and comfort:
- Traveling slowly accentuates the vibrations caused by a washboard road. The faster you travel, within reason, the smoother the ride will be as you tend to ride on the tops of the washboard instead of sinking down into it.
- Traveling "with" the washboard tends to be a bumpy ride. Traveling "against" it is usually smoother. That means traveling on the opposite side of the road as you would normally. Do this only if you can clearly see ahead to avoid oncoming traffic.
- Often the washboard portion of the road exhibits itself as two parallel tracks. It can sometimes be avoided by traveling in between the washboard tracks.
- Last, but not least, be aware if you travel too fast you can loose traction with the road surface and slide off to the side, especially on turns that have washboard surfaces. So, if you're trying to avoid the vibration by traveling a bit faster than usual, but aware of the "grip" your vehicle has on the road so you don't travel too fast for safety.
Mostly a road with a washboard surface is an inconvenience that shakes your vehicle excessively, and there are ways of avoiding or reducing the vibration. Be mindful that the washboard surface can also be dangerous if you're traveling too fast when you encounter them.
It's better to not be on a washboard road at all. Wouldn't it be nice if we all could avoid creating washboards in the first place?
Done with Washboard Road, take me back to Safe Driving