Severe winter weather can often lead to potholes, which show up in the spring. That's because potholes are often caused when water seeps into soil under the pavement and then freezes and thaws, weakening the road.
However, it's not always the freeze-thaw cycle that brings on potholes. An estimated 27% of major urban roads in the U.S. are in poor condition, according to TRIP, a national transportation research group. Noteworthy, the top five bad road metros — Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and Tucson — are not places that contend with harsh winters.
The fact is, drivers everywhere have to contend with potholes from time to time — and potholes can pose serious safety risks for your fleet. It's been estimated that of the approximately 33,000 traffic fatalities every year, one-third of those involve poor road conditions.
Now is a good time to remind your drivers to beware of potholes and steps they can take to stay safe when they do encounter them. Experts offer the following advice:
Ensure Proper Tire Inflation Level
Underinflated tires may not have enough resistance to withstand the impact of hitting a pothole.
Look Ahead at the Road
It sounds like a basic, but many drivers fail to do so. By looking beyond the vehicle directly in front of yours, you will be more likely to spot potholes in advance and navigate around them.
If you know the road is dotted with potholes, drive slower than usual. It gives you more time to react.
Leave Ample Following Distance
Tailgating kills your visibility of potholes directly ahead of you. In addition, it's smart to allow more space in case you or another driver nearby needs to suddenly swerve to avoid a pothole.
Don't Slam on the Brakes
Experts say it is best to brake before a pothole, but not in it. Doing so causes more damage because the front of your vehicle will nosedive and that grinds the front wheels into the pothole. The best practice is to simply slow down and coast over the pothole.
Hold the Steering Wheel Firmly
When driving over a pothole make sure you have a firm grip on the steering wheel to avoid losing control of the vehicle.
Beware of Puddles
There could be a pothole lurking beneath that innocent-looking pool of water!