The Dangers of Road Potholes

If you’re not familiar with potholes, they are holes on the road that’s a result of a variety of road damages. These potholes measure more than 7cm in diameter but not more than 5cm deep. Road damage that causes potholes to appear are as follows:

  • Alligator cracking
  • Longitudinal cracking
  • Edge cracks
  • Stripping
  • Scabbing
  • Bleeding
  • Block cracking
  • Settlement depressions

Potholes can create damage to your vehicle tires, and they form very quickly especially during rainy seasons or during frosts and thaws. Speaking of quick, potholes can form in just a matter of hours. What’s worse is that it gets deeper and wider especially when there’s heavy traffic where vehicles can crush the edges of the pothole, making its structure weaker time to time.

Damage That Potholes Cause

  • Can flatten your tires – potholes can burst your tire’s sidewall since this is the weakest part.
  • Can damage your suspension – the impact from the tires causes the suspension to reach its maximum travel, thus bending components.
  • Can damage your wheels – the impact to the tire dents can create bents and cracks on the wheel.
  • Steering problems – the impact can result to steering geometry problems and can increase tire wear.
  • Swerving – drivers usually swerve to avoid potholes, and may cause road accidents if not noticed.
  • Can cause accidents to cyclists/motorcyclists – it can be a problem for both cyclists/motorcyclists to drive along potholes, causing them to wobble or have to use alternate lanes that are not made for their vehicles.

Tips to Avoid Pothole Damage for Your Vehicles

  • Inflate Your Tires – keeping them properly inflated helps them to absorb the impact which prevents them to bent or flatten.
  • Look ahead – if there’s an unavoidable pothole ahead, drive at a lesser speed. Less speed means less force that’s going to hit to your vehicle.
  • Never tailgate – tailgating other drivers gives you less time to react once a pothole is in sight.
  • Keep your steering wheel straight – don’t turn when you just drove through a pothole. Turning puts more stress on one side of the tire and causes damage.
  • Brake in time – when a pothole is nearby, release the brakes before you get into the pothole. Braking is a way to transfer the weight to the front of the car that compresses the front suspension. This will result to less suspension travel available once your vehicle hits the pothole.

What to Do Once You’ve Hit a Pothole

  • If you’ve hit a hard pothole, take time to check your wheels once you’re out of the pothole. A small dent can create greater damage if not taken care of as soon as possible.
  • If ever you felt a vibration through the steering wheel, it’s a sign that your wheel rim has been damaged.
  • If you feel that your vehicle now only pulls to one side, there’s a chance that the pothole just caused the wheel alignment to shift sides. Fix this as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
  • When you get into normal bumps or speed bumps and felt something different, this is a sign that the pothole has damaged the suspension too.

Educating Drivers About Potholes

Every driver should be educated about potholes and what these can do to their vehicles. They should be taught how to identify a pothole since there’s no warning sign that potholes are ahead since they can form anytime, anywhere. Drivers should learn these three key things about potholes:

  • Potholes can randomly form anywhere.
  • Potholes are almost invisible especially when it’s raining or during nighttime.
  • Look as far ahead as possible and check other drivers on the road if they have hit a pothole so you can avoid one if it’s your turn.

How Do They Form?

A road is made consisting of different materials, asphalt being at the top while others such as gravel are layered underneath it. These materials underneath are not totally compressed by road rollers while the roads are being made. When it rains, water enters through these cracks and gradually erodes it. Once this happens, the asphalt sinks in and forms cracks that can weaken the surface. Chunks starts to appear and becomes loose which will result into a pothole. However, self-healing asphalt are already in development which will be used by cities worldwide whenever there are road renovations in the near future.

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