VIDEO: A Pothole Epidemic

With so many regions seeing record-setting rain and snow in recent weeks, this year’s repair expenses arising from pothole damage are likely to exceed expectations as well.

But drivers can take several steps to keep such costs down. Here are some tips, culled from advice provided by the Michigan Department of Transportation:

  • Make sure tires are properly inflated. Over- or under-inflated tires fare worse when they strike a pothole. Tires showing excessive wear or bulges in the sidewalls won’t hold up as well to potholes, either.
  • Make certain the vehicle’s suspension and steering components are checked out when the vehicle is serviced. Responsive steering can help you avoid hitting potholes. Also, good shocks, struts and springs will help cushion the blow.
  • To avoid hitting potholes whenever possible, you need to drive cautiously and not tailgate. That will give you more time to see and react to any potholes you’re approaching.
  • Potholes are harder to spot in the dark, so make sure your headlights are working properly and your windshield is clean.
  • Be extra cautious around puddles because they could be potholes filled with water.
  • Keep a firm grip on your steering wheel since potholes can cause your vehicle to change direction suddenly. Don’t swerve into an occupied lane. No one wants pothole damage to escalate to a collision causing further damage or injury.
  • If you see a pothole ahead and can’t safely steer to avoid it, slow down and then release the brakes before you hit the pothole. This helps to reduce the speed at impact and gives 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.
  • If you hit a pothole, first look for obvious tire and wheel damage. Then check to see whether the vehicle is pulling one way or the other, or if it is now bottoming out or bouncing. Necessary repairs should be scheduled as soon as possible.

What causes potholes to form, and how much damage can they cause? To view a 2015 ABC News report about the ongoing pothole epidemic, click on the photo or link below the headline.