Extreme weather conditions throughout the Midwest and Northeast this winter have had potholes rearing their ugly heads. As you travel to work or to the grocery store, you know exactly where they are and you drive around them if you can. But there’s always one lying in wait for the happily unsuspecting driver, and that’s when it can get expensive and even dangerous.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works has been inundated with requests to patch potholes. Since the beginning of 2014, they’ve received 997 requests, compared to 667 last year.
Unfortunately, Milwaukee isn’t alone. Many cities across America are in the same boat, struggling to keep up with the repairs and the cost.
The damage caused to your car when hitting a pothole is also causing damage in consumers’ pocket books. Repair costs typically range from a couple hundred to thousands of dollars, depending on the damage. This list identifies some of the damage that can be caused when a car hits a pothole.
• Tire puncture;
• Bent rims;
• Suspension damage;
• Steering knocked out of alignment;
• Exhaust system damage; and
• Engine damage.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), damage to your car that’s caused by a pothole may be covered if you have collision coverage on your auto insurance policy. To learn more, check out their article titled, “Does My Auto Insurance Cover Damage Caused by Potholes?”
If you have other questions about coverage, please review your policy or contact your agent.
Here are five tips to help you avoid potholes.
1. Keep your eyes peeled. Constantly scan the road and be aware of what’s in front of you; put the phone down.
2. Keep a safe following distance. You don’t know how the driver in front of you will react if he/she sees a pothole. If you keep a safe following distance, you’ll be able to brake safely and have a better view of what lies ahead.
3. Don’t swerve. While swerving may feel like the right thing to do, it could put you in more danger. You could veer into the oncoming lane of traffic or cause your tire(s) to hit the pothole at an angle which could result in more damage. If you can’t safely avoid it, gently brake before the pothole, release the brake at the pothole and take it head on.
4. Watch your speed. If you’re driving on a road that looks like it’s been in a war (and you know what I mean!), slow down. If the road is that bad, consider finding an alternate route. Pull over and check the map on your smartphone or the good ole paper map in you glove compartment.
5. Watch out for water. I was recently driving my daughter to volleyball practice and hit a huge pothole. Because of the size of the pothole and the amount of the water that had collected in it from a nearby snow bank, water splashed over the hood and onto the windshield, making it hard to see. Not only that, I was definitely startled!
If you hit a pothole and believe your car was damaged, please pull over at safe location. DO NOT pull over on the highway or a busy roadway and try to inspect the damage. If you can’t get to a safe location, remain seated in your car, seat belt fastened, and call for help. While you may be scared or frustrated, try to remain calm until help arrives.
Do you have any tips or stories you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them; please share them in the box below.