Maryland's pothole detectives are good at finding faults

In winter, crews use a cold patch, filling the hole and compressing the material with a tamper. Once temperatures warm above about 50 degrees, damaged sections of roadway are cut away and hot asphalt is used as fill. Finally, when simple patching is no longer effective, SHA will use a milling machine to strip off the top two inches of asphalt and lay down a new surface.

On Route 176, just south of the airport, Weller and Foster are finishing an inspection before lunch. The hardest part of the job is maintaining a straight line through traffic and anticipating the actions of discourteous motorists who cut them off or tailgate.

"They take a lot of your concentration," Weller acknowledged.

And the truck's $1.3 million price tag?

"That crosses your mind, too."

Tips to avoid pothole damage

Reduce distractions and choose roads you know.

Use well-lighted roads at night.

Slow down so you can make adjustments.

If you can't avoid a pothole, don't slam on the brakes. Damage is less when a vehicle rolls over a hole.

Afterward, inspect the tires and wheels for damage. If the car "pulls" or the steering shimmies, take it to a mechanic.

Source: State Farm Insurance