Avoiding the Pitfalls of Potholes

City roads take a hit from snow and ice. After the snow finally melts, you can expect more new potholes and larger old ones. They cost cities millions in repairs. Drivers, both individuals and commercial drivers,  suffer not just annoyance, but greater chances for accidents and damage to their vehicles.

Potholes happen when water gets into cracks that are caused by general wear and tear on the roadway. As temperatures plummet in winter, the water freezes and expands, which makes the pavement rise. Eventually the continual traffic over these spots leads to depressions of varying depth in the pavement, called potholes.


Both driving into a pothole and swerving to miss it carry dangers. If you hit a pothole, you can lose control of the car. It can damage the alignment, chassis, suspension, and tires. You and your passengers can be tossed about enough to be injured.

Swerving is the natural reaction when you realize you are about to hit a pothole. But you may end up hitting another car in the lane next to you. Or you might crash into a bicyclist or pedestrian using the side of the road.


People and cities feel the damage in their wallet from potholes. The American Automobile Association, AAA, estimates that drivers have to pay $5 billion a year to fix the damage from potholes. Problems can range from deflated tires and bent rims to bad alignment and snapped tire rods.

Municipalities, especially those dealing with record winter snowfall like Boston, pay out millions from city budget’s that can ill afford it.

7 Tips to Lower Your Risk

The American Automobile Association and Canadian Automobile Association offer seven tips to reduce your chance of an accident or damage to your vehicle.

  1. Reduce your speed. This is especially important when it’s wet. You never know when there is a puddle is covering up a pothole.
  2. Keep looking ahead. If you see a pothole coming up, slow way down. Don’t swerve automatically. First check the surrounding traffic and for the presence of bicyclists and pedestrians.
  3. Avoid road seams at the edges and center of the road, where potholes often develop.
  4. Inspect your tires, your only cushion between the car and the pothole. Watch the tread and keep them properly inflated.
  5. Maintain your vehicle’s suspension system. This will reduce injuries if you do hit a pothole.
  6. Have your alignment checked. Hitting a pothole will kick it out of alignment, increasing the chances of accident and injury.
  7. Be alert for strange noises or vibrations. Unusual sounds or movement might indicate a problem with your wheel, tire, suspension or alignment, caused by a pothole.

Of course, accidents and damage do happen. So be sure you carry adequate levels of commercial auto insurance for every vehicle that is used for business-related activities.