As summer draws to a close, local municipalities across the country are gearing up for the winter months ahead. When the weather gets harsh, the biggest concern will be road safety. Freezing conditions and snow will wreak havoc on America’s roadways, and local crews will work around the clock to ensure safe passageways for all motorists.
In particularly downtrodden cities like Detroit and Cleveland, fluctuating temperatures, snow, and ice will contribute to a problem that continues to grow year by year, placing major stress on local budgets – potholes.
Last spring, “unprecedented wear and tear” had cities exhausting their budgets in order to fix potholes, such as New York City, which filled more than twice as many potholes in the spring of 2014 as it did the previous season. It is feared that many roads will be even worse off after we get through this winter. With many areas lacking the funds necessary to fill all their potholes, individuals drivers must be extra cautious to avoid damage to their vehicles.
Here are some tips you can follow to deal with potholes while traveling and to minimize any potential damage to your car and tires:
- Increase the distance between your car and those in front of you. You’ll have extra time and space to deal with unexpected dips and craters in the road.
- Be aware of traffic patterns. If you notice other drivers swerving ahead, you’ll be clued in to a potential pothole coming up.
- Watch the road. Be sure to look at the roadway while driving so that you can spot any upcoming potholes or other obstacles.
- Slow down. Drive very slowly through potholes to minimize potential damage to your car. It is better to roll through a pothole than to stop suddenly.
- Avoid swerving as a reaction to sudden potholes. Turning into oncoming traffic or hitting pedestrians/bicyclists is much more dangerous than going through a pothole.
- Keep your tires properly inflated. Over-inflated or under-inflated tires are much more susceptible to damage from driving through potholes.
- Regularly check your tires for blisters, and use the “penny test” to make sure your tire treads aren’t worn down too much. Also be on the lookout for any changes to your car’s alignment.
- If you drive through a bad pothole, immediately check your tire and hubcaps for damage. If there is any, get it fixed as soon as possible so it doesn’t get worse.
- File a timely claim with your car insurance company if necessary.
- Change your driving route whenever possible to avoid major potholes until they can be fixed.
Because potholes are dangerous, local transportation authorities do take them seriously. Unfortunately, many budgets are stretched so thin that potholes, especially smaller ones, may not be fixed for long periods of time. Winter weather often causes potholes to appear and get bigger, so most municipalities use suppliers like Mchlaughlin Underground, that supply large vacuum excavation machines, until the springtime, when most of the risk for additional road damage has passed.
If you notice a pothole in the road, you can contact your state transportation department to report it. You’ll need to provide the exact location of the pothole (intersection, lane, nearby landmarks, etc.), and it’s helpful if you can provide information about its size (approximate length, width, and depth), as well as noting if there is any reason for particular concern (interference with a bus stop, trolley track, or pedestrian crosswalk, for example).