Tips For Driving Over Potholes

It seems as though the freezing temperatures are finally a thing of the past! We've actually had snow in April for the last few weeks, but Michiganders are all preparing themselves for some warm weather that’s headed this way. The warm weather comes with a cost though: Potholes. Potholes are nothing new to Michigan residents, but drivers everywhere are dreading popping a tire or wrecking their car's suspension on the pockmarked roads this Spring.

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) says, "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." While trying to avoid potholes is a good idea to prevent vehicle damage, dodging all the potholes like your racing your friend in Mario Kart isn’t a good idea. Yes, you missed the pothole but you put yourself and other people at risk of getting into a car accident, since swerving erratically may cause you to sideswipe a car! Instead, by following these pothole driving tips by MDOT, you may be able to avoid pothole vehicle damage and car accidents!

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Tips For Driving Over Potholes

  1. Be Vigilant - it's best to avoid hitting potholes whenever possible. That's easier to do if you're driving cautiously, and not tailgating, so you have more time to see and react to any potholes you're approaching.
  2. Be Cautious Around Puddles - they could be potholes filled with water. Since water is a critical component to forming potholes,
  3. Slow Down - 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. 
  4. Vehicle Maintenance Helps - Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Over- or under-inflated tires are worse when they tangle with a pothole.

There are some potholes that are small and can easily be driven over without any damage to your car and there are some that can be very deep and many feet wide. The above pothole tips may help drivers navigate potholes with minimal vehicle damage, but sometimes it's not possible to avoid pothole vehicle damage. The best way to avoid pothole damage to your vehicle may be to avoid experiencing road damage all together! By reporting potholes to MDOT, and because of the recently approved road repair budget, it’s possible that all potholes could be filled this Spring before they cause too much damage to cars and to car owners’ wallets. But, if you do find yourself having to shell out cash to your mechanic because you couldn’t avoid a crater in the road, there may be a possibility that you can be reimbursed by the State of Michigan for pothole vehicle damage. However drivers should keep in mind that, according to The Detroit Free Press, there is a 30-day window, from the time a pothole is reported to when it is fixed, when road commissions and municipal street departments can avoid responsibility for damaged vehicles. The State of Michigan reimbursed only 9 of the 267 pothole claims for $1,000 or less made during fiscal year 2017, according to MDOT, but it still may be worth a shot. 

Potholes can be reported on the MDOT website or by calling 888-296-4546.

Every year tons of potholes are filled in hopes of creating safer roads for people to drive on. But potholes are an unavoidable, never ending cycle that reemerge each year, which is why car accidents due to potholes and other types of road damage occur each year too. Road damage accidents not only cause serious damage to vehicles but can also cause serious injury to people. For a free legal consultation with an auto accident attorney regarding road damage car crashes or any type of auto accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.

Pothole Season Descends on Michigan Roads

When Spring arrives in Michigan, the snow and ice has melted, birds begin to chirp, flowers start to bloom, and dreaded potholes make themselves known. Potholes are caused when melting snow and ice trickle into cracks in the roads and freeze overnight, thereby expanding and causing the pavement to rise and eventually break from the weight of motor vehicles driving over these divots. Not only are these craters unsightly, but they can also damage cars leading to expensive repairs. Luckily, The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) provides some useful tips on how to deal with potholes, and even reminds you to report potholes so that they can be fixed.

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MDOT's Tips For Dealing With Potholes

1. Maintain Your Vehicle

Maintaining simple vehicle repairs can potentially limit damages caused by potholes. Keeping tires properly inflated can prevent them from being heavily worn and potentially blowing out on the roadway. Motorists should get the suspension, struts, shocks, springs and steering on their vehicles checked by a certified mechanic. Checking that these few parts are in working order should assist the vehicle in driving over or through minor potholes on the road.   

2. Keep Your Eyes Open And Both Hands On The Wheel

It can be easy to mistake a pothole as a shadow, a shallow dip, or a simple puddle if rainfall recently occurred, but with proper head-lighting and clear windows drivers should be able to identify potholes. Also, by keeping the windows and mirrors on the vehicle clean, drivers can better discern potholes on the road. When a pothole is spotted, it's best to avoid hitting a pothole if you can, in order to prevent damage to the vehicle. Some potholes are small and easy enough to maneuver around if a driver is cautious and not engaging in aggressive driving habits like tailgating. Another tip for drivers is to place both hands on the wheel of the vehicle - preferably at 10 and 2, since potholes can cause a vehicle to suddenly change directions which can potentially cause a car accident. 

3. How To Drive Through A Pothole

If a pothole is unavoidable, it is best to slow down and then release the brakes just before hitting it. This helps reduce the speed at impact and gives the suspension time to absorb the shock. It’s also a good idea to straighten up the wheel to prevent bending the rim of the tires and to avoid any excessive damage to the vehicle.

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4. Help MDOT Take Care Of The Road

MDOT urges drivers to report a pothole whether they hit it or not. This could prevent future motorists from damaging their car or from causing a car accident. If a pothole is located on a city street or county road, it is best to report it to that city's public works department or county road commission. If the pothole is located on an interstate, US route, or a Michigan highway, please submit a complaint to MDOT’s Report A Pothole website or call their pothole hotline at 888.296.4546.

5. What If You Did Hit A Pothole?

If you hit a pothole that was unavoidable of if you damaged your car while trying to avoid hitting one, MDOT has tips for that too. Take notice if the vehicle is pulling in one direction or if the car is constantly swaying or bouncing. These are signs that you may need to get your vehicle serviced and potentially need a wheel alignment or new suspension.

While these tips aren't guaranteed to help drivers avoid potholes and thereby damage to their car, they may help prevent a car crash caused by losing control of a vehicle when trying to maneuver a pothole. After all, a flat tire is better than a flipped car. 

Potholes, especially ones that take up the entire width of the road can cause serious damage to vehicles and may even cause drivers to lose control of their cars and become involved in an auto accident. If you or someone you know has been involved in a motor vehicle collision due to a pothole, construction, or any other bad road conditions, call The Michigan Law Firm. Contact us at 844.4MI.FIRM today, for a free consultation. We understand that accidents caused by damaged roads are sometimes unavoidable but are always dangerous.