When winter weather finally fades, the spring thaw begins to wreak havoc on the roads of states like Colorado and Utah. Thawing ice breaks down pavement, creating potholes that range from small nuisances to serious hazards capable of causing significant vehicle damage.

America’s deteriorating roadways are an issue all over the country. According to the American Society for Civil Engineers, 43% of the U.S. public roadways are in “poor or mediocre condition,” and poorly maintained roads lead to more potholes. The AAA determined that pothole damage alone resulted in $26.5 billion dollars in vehicle repair in 2021. And these risks are especially pronounced in places that enjoy snowy winters.

At Great West Injury Law, we recognize the frustration and potential damage posed by holes in the road. Read on to learn more about this spring phenomenon, how to avoid damage, and what to do if you can’t.

The Spring Thaw: A Catalyst for Road Damage

The spring thaw marks the transitional time when accumulated snow and ice begins to melt. This process, prevalent in the climates of many states including Utah, Idaho, and Colorado, plays a significant role in the deterioration of our roadways.

As temperatures rise and fall, the freeze-thaw cycle causes water to seep into the cracks and pores of the pavement. When the temperature drops, the water expands as it freezes, exacerbating the cracks and weakening the asphalt. Over time, with the weight of vehicles continually passing over, the surface eventually forms potholes.

Unfortunately, potholes aren’t just minor road blemishes—they can become deep, wide hazards that pose a real threat to the safety and function of vehicles. Understanding this natural process is the first step in grasping the extent of the damage they can cause.

How Potholes Cause Vehicle Damage

The impact of hitting a pothole can be surprisingly forceful, leading to a range of vehicle damages, including:

  • Tire and Wheel Damage: The abrupt and forceful impact with a pothole can cause tire punctures, tread separation, or bent and cracked wheels.
  • Suspension and Alignment Issues: The jolt from a pothole can disrupt your vehicle’s suspension system and alignment, affecting steering and stability.
  • Exhaust System Damage: Vehicles with lower clearance may suffer damage to their exhaust systems when hitting deep potholes which might lead to decreased engine performance, increased noise, or harmful emissions.
  • Body Damage: Particularly deep potholes can cause damage to a vehicle’s body, especially the undercarriage parts that are closer to the ground. This might include punctures, dents, or scrapes that can lead to rust.

Preventive Measures and Safe Driving Tips

Navigating spring potholes requires focus and an understanding of safe driving. Here are some preventive measures to help you avoid the pitfalls of potholes:

  • Maintain Proper Tire Inflation: Keep your tires properly inflated according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Well-inflated tires provide a better cushion against potholes and reduce the likelihood of tire damage.
  • Reduce Speed: Slow down when you’re driving in areas where potholes are common, especially if you’re navigating unfamiliar roads. Lower speeds give you more time to spot and avoid potholes or reduce the impact.
  • Keep a Safe Distance: Maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of you, giving you a better view of the road surface ahead.
  • Stay Alert and Scan the Road: Keep your eyes on the road and be on the lookout for potholes, especially after rain or snow when they’re more difficult to spot.
  • Avoid Sudden Maneuvers: If you encounter a pothole, resist the urge to brake sharply or swerve suddenly. These actions can lead to a loss of control or cause you to hit the pothole at an awkward angle, increasing the risk of damage.
  • Use Caution with Puddles: Treat puddles with suspicion as they might be hiding deep potholes.
  • Keep Your Vehicle Well-Maintained: Regularly inspect your vehicle, paying particular attention to the tires, suspension, and alignment.

If All Else Fails, Call Great West

Sometimes incidents with potholes are unavoidable. If you find yourself with vehicle damage or injury, Great West Injury Law is ready to assist. Whether negotiating with insurance companies or pursuing a claim for damages, our personal injury lawyers dedicated to ensuring you receive the legal support you need. Contact us today for a free consultation on your case.