You know the feeling. Perhaps you’re driving along a familiar route, or at least one you expect to be adequately maintained. And then, a thunkthunk! jolts you into a heightened state of cautious driving. Hitting a pothole can definitely be a jarring experience, and these hazards can cause serious damage to vehicles and, most importantly, cause accidents.
Potholes can occur any time of year, but they become especially prevalent during the late winter and spring months. And they tend to sneak up on drivers very suddenly – leaving little or no time to prevent hitting them. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to increase your chances of staying safe:
- Leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you. This will give you a far better chance to see potholes before you hit them.
- Don’t swerve to avoid potholes. This may cause accidents. Remember, vehicles in other lanes can’t be responsible for road hazards in your lane. It’s better to slow down as much as you can to go over a pothole.
- Keep your tires properly inflated. Properly maintained tires are far less likely to blow out or be damaged.
- Avoid driving into standing water. Potholes can be hidden in puddles.
- Make a mental note of where potholes are on your regular routes.
- Check for and report potholes. There is no harm in calling 911 if you believe a pothole or other road damage can cause severe damage or an accident. In many cities, the public works department maintains a listing of potholes and other damage that needs to be fixed. It may be best to call them to report potholes and other road surface damage. For example, Seattle maintains a website for potholes.
As usual, defensive driving and proper vehicle maintenance are your best tools to keep potholes from doing you and others harm.