Driving safely around potholes
Source: FleetAnswers Potholes are a hazard found in almost any area of the country. These holes, which can be as much as 10 inches deep and several feet across, create serious problem for suspension and shocks on modern vehicles, damaging struts, tires, alignment and suspension. When a driver hits a pothole, the damage caused to the car or truck can be similar to that caused by a 35-mph car accident. Not only that, but drivers can sometimes try to compensate for potholes, swerving out of their lane and into oncoming traffic. Potholes that are deep enough can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
Winter weather, with the frequent freezing and thawing, can create a serious problem on roadways. As the water in the ground expands and then contracts, potholes develop. While potholes can be present any time of the year, the spring is the season when they are the most troublesome, as the roadways are recovering from the harshness of winter. If your drivers will be heading out on the road in an area where potholes are a problem, then take the time to discuss driving safely around these hazards, especially in the spring.
No amount of preparation can prevent exposure to potholes. Your best plan of attack is to know how to deal with them when they occur. Here are some tips to make it easier for your drivers to handle the reality of pothole season.
- Monitor Tire Condition - A properly inflated tire creates a cushion of air between a pothole and a vehicle. Monitor tire pressure and condition to ensure they are ready for the rigors of the road, and remember to inflate them to the level the vehicle's manufacturer recommends, which is not the level stamped on the tire.
- Drive Defensively - While driving, watch for potholes. Sometimes being aware that one is coming gives the driver enough time to avoid hitting it. Defensive driving also means knowing where other traffic is before swerving to avoid the pothole.
- Avoid Puddles - Sometimes potholes look like puddles when the roadway is wet. If you must drive over a puddle, treat it as though it may be a pothole. Otherwise, avoid driving over wet spaces on the road.
- Keep Suspension Well Maintained - If you notice a problem with the suspension, which uneven tire wear could indicate, have the suspension inspected. Suspension problems can make damage from a pothole more expensive.
- Drive Slowly - If you cannot avoid a pothole, you can minimize damage by slowing down before you hit it. The faster you drive, the more damage is possible. You do need to slow down without creating a hazard, so check to see if anyone is following close behind you.
- Report Potholes - If you notice a severe pothole, call your local city department of transportation to report it. This will help them address the problem more quickly before others fall victim to the pothole.
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