Pothole Accidents

Spring has sprung in much of the country, and while most of us are glad to have warmer temperatures, the weather at this time of year contributes directly to that wonderful phenomenon known as potholes. Formed during the winter when water seeps into the pavement, freezes, and then expands, the rising temperatures thaw the water and cause the asphalt to break apart under the weight of constant traffic. The gaping hazard left behind can wreak havoc on cars, trucks, motorcycles, and even bicycles.

Potholes can be in the passing lane of a 70 mph highway or in the street in front of your house. They may measure several inches deep and just as wide at first, but can quickly extend to several feet with rain. They can knock vehicles out of alignment, puncture a tire, crack an axle, bend a wheel, and more. Hitting one can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicle and get in a wreck. Swerving to avoid one can end in an accident as well. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet encourages drivers to report potholes on state highways. Even if the weather is still chilly, they can repair it with a cold weather patch now and follow-up with a permanent patch later on.

With just two wheels and weighing less than cars, motorcycles are highly prone to accidents caused by potholes. Motorcycle wheels can get trapped inside a large pothole and cause the operator to lose his or her balance. In fact, there have been several motorcyclist fatalities in the last few years which resulted from potholes, including ones in New York, Maine, and Tennessee.

Bicycle wheels can also easily get caught in a pothole, throwing the bicyclist onto the road. Bike riders have to be extra careful not to swerve into traffic while trying to avoid a pothole, which can be a difficult choice to make when you have split seconds to react.

According to a survey by AAA, pothole damage has cost U.S. motorists approximately $3 billion annually in vehicle repairs over the last five years. Drivers can help themselves by driving attentively and scanning the road ahead. Being alert may give you enough time to safely avoid potholes. It’s also important to slow down – hitting a pothole at higher speeds increases the chance of damage to tires, wheels, and suspension parts. Make sure tires have enough tread and are properly inflated. When checking tire pressure, ensure they are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended levels, which can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker on the driver’s door jamb. Do not use the pressure levels stamped on the sidewall of the tire. If you hit a pothole, be aware of changes in vehicle handling, uneven tire wear, vibrations and new or unusual noises. If you experience any of those, have your vehicle checked out by a mechanic to make sure you aren’t driving an unsafe car.

If you’ve been injured in a vehicle wreck that was caused by a pothole, or if you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the attorneys at the Pikeville, KY-based Johnson Law Firm. Contact us by calling 606-433-0682 or filling out our online form.

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