With yesterday's rain, the snow in Michigan has finally melted! While most Michiganders are rejoicing and excitedly anticipating Spring, they shouldn’t stop worrying just yet. As the temperatures rise, so do the chances of hitting potholes. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) warns that, “Potholes are created when snow and ice melt as part of Michigan's seasonal freeze-thaw cycles. Moisture seeps into the pavement, freezes, expands and thaws, creating a gap in the pavement. As vehicles drive over the gap, the pavement weakens leading to a pothole."
Potholes are as Pure Michigan® as Vernor's® ginger ale! While many understand the usual dangers of potholes, most people just grin and bear it, and drive over potholes. However, potholes are unpredictable and there are still more unexpected dangers lurking in those holes on the road than people realize. Running over a pothole could have many different outcomes. Everyone knows that driving over a pothole can cause a flat tire. Even kicking up debris from the broken asphalt can damage the body of the car or break automotive glass. It’s also well known that swerving to avoid a pothole can potentially lead to being involved in a car accident, if the driver over-corrects into the next lane or into oncoming traffic.
However, one other danger of potholes that even many veterans of Michigan’s roads may not know is that debris can be swept up by vehicles and released with enough force to land on the cars behind them. Concrete or asphalt can plummet onto innocent drivers who haven’t even touched the pothole! This happened to a woman who was driving westbound on I-696, on January 31, 2018, when a piece of concrete crashed through her windshield as she was heading to work, Fox News reported. Luckily, the woman was uninjured, as the piece of concrete sat in her passenger seat, and she was able to pull over at the next exit. This was the second time in January that concrete had hit a windshield on the expressway.
Not as lucky was another woman who also driving westbound on I-696 last May, according to Fox News, when a piece of concrete smashed through her windshield, hitting her directly in the head. The head injury caused a car crash because the woman lost consciousness and thereby control of her car and hit the vehicle next to her.
Both of these car accidents did not occur underneath an underpass-a more likely location for such accidents, as concrete tends to fall down and hit cars driving underneath. Both motor vehicle accidents occurred because cars in front of these ladies’ cars swept up debris and tossed it back on to them with tremendous enough force to go straight through their windshields.
According to The Detroit News, MDOT spokesperson Diane Cross confirmed that these debris car accidents were due to potholes when she said, “The roads are crumbling and chances are any concrete came from there.”
With so many pothole-corrupted, crumbling roads in Michigan, flying asphalt breaking windshields isn’t the only vehicle damage to worry about. Firestone Tires reports that there are many other types of pothole vehicle damages, such as:
Vehicle Damage Caused By Potholes
- Tire puncture, damage or wear.
- Wheel rim damage.
- Premature wear on shocks and struts.
- Suspension damage, including broken components.
- Steering system misalignment.
- Exhaust system damage.
- Engine damage.
All of these types of vehicle damage due to potholes, not only put drivers in danger of being involved in a car crash, but also in danger of emptying out wallets. Vehicle repair is expensive enough that Michiganders would have to be prepared to hand over money saved for Tigers Opening Day tickets, to an auto body shop! If catching the game on TV sounds disappointing however, drivers may able to save money on potential pothole related car repairs by following tips given by Michigan.gov, on how drivers can avoid potholes, or what to do if you have no choice but to drive over a pothole.
How To Drive Over Potholes With Minimal Car Damage
- Potholes aren't always obvious enough to spot in the daylight and they're even harder to spot in the dark. Make sure your headlights are working and your windshield is clear.
- Be extra cautious around puddles - they could be potholes filled with water. Since water is a critical component to forming potholes, that puddle may be at work creating one as you drive through it.
- Keep a firm grip on your steering wheel as potholes can cause your vehicle to change direction suddenly. Don't swerve into an occupied lane. No one wants pothole damage to escalate to an auto collision causing further damage or injury.
- Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Over-inflated and under-inflated tires fare worse when they tangle with a pothole. Tires showing excessive wear or bulges in the sidewalls won't hold up as well to potholes either.
- If you see a pothole ahead and can't safely steer to avoid it, it's best to slow down, then release the brakes before you hit the pothole. This helps to reduce the speed at impact as well as give your suspension the full range of travel to absorb the impact. If you can't avoid the pothole, straighten your wheel to hit it squarely and roll through. Hitting a pothole at an angle can transfer the energy of impact in ways more likely to damage your vehicle.
- Have your vehicle's suspension and steering components checked out by a qualified mechanic. Steering that is in good condition and responsive can help you avoid hitting potholes. Remember that shocks, struts and springs in good shape help cushion the blow.
Trying to avoiding a pothole can sometimes be impossible and extremely dangerous. While these tips may help prevent most pothole car accidents, no number of precautions can guarantee that road damage related car crashes won’t occur. As Lieutenant Michael Shaw of the Michigan State Police stated in relation to one particular pothole debris car accident, “When something happens that fast, there’s nothing to do.”
Potholes can lead to expensive vehicle damage, dangerous car accidents, and even serious car crash injuries. If you or someone you know has been involved in a motor accident due to potholes or unsafe road conditions, call The Michigan Law Firm, PC. Contact us at 844.4MI.FIRM today, for a free consultation with an experienced accident attorney.