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.

Dangerous April Fools Day Car Pranks!

Today is April Fools’ Day, a day for pranksters to up their game and go wild! Planning pranks can take time and energy, but it is worth the effort when the victim springs the trap and is caught up in the prank. There are many harmless pranks people can pull for April Fools' Day, like scattering toy spiders throughout the house and waiting for an arachnophobia to stumble across them. Or perhaps switching the salt and sugar labels for some extra salty cookies. However, there are some pranks that may go too far and are no longer funny. In fact, they could be dangerous. According to Statistic Brain, about 175 people are injured by an April Fools’ prank each year. That may not seem like a large number, but considering pranks are supposed to be fun, it is far too high.

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A viral video from July showed a motorcyclist picking up a mug from the back of a car and returning it to the owner by driving up to her window! While this was done as an act of kindness, the opposite could be done as a prank. An online forum lists several car pranks that could easily go wrong. One trick is to leave a cup with coffee, or other drink, on a person’s car and hope they won’t notice. When they start driving, the cup goes flying and spills all over the car! This doesn’t seem like a big deal, other than possibly making a mess on the car, but the cup could also fall and hit the windshield of the car, or even another car, causing confusion, panic, and possibly a car crash if the surprised driver swerves. 

Another prank that most people have heard of, is covering someone’s car in Post-it notes or wrapping it up in saran wrap. These may seem funny at first glance, but another look can reveal car accident dangers. The Post-it prank is more of a painstaking, time-consuming art project, so the “victim” may want to only clear the windshield and drive with the rest of the car still covered. Not only does a colorful Post-it car cause other drivers on the road to be distracted but the Post-its could go flying from the vehicle and hit the other cars, once again causing confusion, panic, and swerving cars to get into a car crash.  Wrapping a car in saran wrap on the other hand,  makes it difficult for someone to get into their car in case of an emergency. Also, once again, a saran wrapped car may encourage distracted driving behavior from other drivers who see the car and are puzzled or humored by it. It just seems like any pranks concerning a car, though they seem funny, may also be dangerous, because at the very least, they cause distracted driving on the road.

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The cinder block prank is another popular car prank posted online, that seems more dangerous than funny. This prank involves someone removing the tires of a car and leaving the car boosted on cinder blocks. Unless the prankster is a professional mechanic, removing tires could possibly damage the car and make it unusable for the foreseeable future. If not done properly, taking parts off of a car may damage the car in a way that makes it unsafe to operate and may even lead to car accidents. Car damage and the associated risk of car accidents, are also a possibility in pranks that involve filling the car up with water by tossing a hose through a partially open car window. If not water, even filling a car up with something like golf balls could cause car accidents, if the balls rush out of the car and into the road or into traffic, when a door is opened.

April Fools' pranks are meant to be funny, enjoyable, and perhaps also embarrassing to those exposed to the prank. They should not make people concerned for their safety, for the safety of their possessions, like their car, or the safety of others not even involved in the joke. Pulling a prank in, on, or around a car should be thoroughly thought out before being put into action, so that it doesn’t lead to permanent car damage or cause car accidents. If you have to cover a car in Post-its, even if it takes a whole day to do so, it’s best to film the victim’s reaction and then help them remove all of the paper before the car is driven. You’ll still get Instagram likes for the victim’s priceless reaction video and you’ll likely avoid any legal trouble you may have risked if you had caused a car accident. 

April Fools’ Day can be a very enjoyable holiday. Who doesn’t love the trick gum that snaps at a person’s fingers or squirting water at someone through a flower pin on your lapel? These pranks are small and harmless, however, not all pranks are. Don’t be the person who wraps your best friends car in saran wrap. Setting up a prank in or on someone’s car could cause a car crash, whether it be from distraction or even causing damage to the car. If you or someone you know is injured in a car accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.

Spring Pothole Dangers

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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 

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  • 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, 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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. 
  6. 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.