When you step out sure you have come across many small, medium, and giant holes on the road. These holes which you see in the roads surface are structural failures caused by primary failure in asphalt pavement. This occurs due to presence of water lying under the soil structure and the presence of traffic that passes over such affected areas. The water that gets introduced in the soil surface first weakens the supporting soil, and then traffic fatigues the weakly supported asphalt surface area.
The action of the busy traffic ejects both the underlying soil material and asphalt creating a hole in the pavement. Everywhere you get to see the same story of the gaping potholes, across the cities that are left wide open, and become more exposed during heavy rain and random traffics despite crores are spent on it by the government. Whether rich or poor in both the types of countries, potholes are a matter of punishment.
Damages Caused due to Potholes:
You all might know how annoying it can be when you navigate over a pothole and the abrupt whip that spills your drink, when you are on your way to work. You may also find a floating screaming sound of children and noticed that a school bus just hit the break to avoid a pothole and the sudden jerk thrilled the back seat children, while you were outside on the road. There are many such direct and indirect issues that are happening daily due to these potholes. Potholes can cause a great damage to the vehicles on the road and also individuals.
Sometimes it may be the cause of death too. The damage takes place when the tire of the vehicle exist the pothole and the unbalanced weight of the submerged tire inside the pothole, forces itself to come out, the impact is severe.
- Damages Tires of the Vehicles:
The most common and obvious damage potholes causes are to the tires of vehicles. Since vehicles are in primary contact with the roads, the attack always happens in the front line for them. When the tire of the vehicle enters the pothole, the pressure on the tire that was balanced before on the even surface of the road, is no longer equally balanced and distributed. The moment tire falls into the pothole, the vehicle is no longer stays labelled and all the weight starts shifting towards that portion of the tire, which is relatively lower than the area on the regular surface, more heavily. The moment the tire drags out of the pothole, damage occurs due to irregular distribution of weight on the tire. A massive force is applied while exiting the pothole.
When the tire hits the pothole at the edge, an immense concentrated force bashes thetire directly. If this force is severe enough it can rupture the tire, mishap it, or even bend its rim. As these days most modern rims are made out of aluminium instead of steel, the endurance is less, which makes the tire more vulnerable. Though it is recommended that maintaining the optimal level of air pressure in the tire, can help prevent it from these types of problems, since it cushions the sudden knock. But the fact still remains that while hitting the pothole on the exact point can leave the driver stranded nevertheless.
- Other Types of Damages:
There are other sorts of damages that can occur due to potholes are dents, scratches and leaks. The tires of a vehicle are designed in a way to keep it certain distance away from the ground level. The down surface of the automobile never comes in contact with the road surface due to its structural design. But when it runs over a giant pothole, this often may be the case and the lower surface of the automobile can touch the ground. While the tire enters the pothole, the lower surface comes closer to the ground entirely, and the vehicle moves further lower to the ground. At this point a sudden jerk can cause the suspension to squeeze, dropping it further close to the road’s surface. Now if the vehicle makes contact, damage caused can be anything from scratches to any destruction of mechanical components.
Though the scratches of the automobile may not seem much to bother, but its effect inthe long run can be vital. It may cause rust. The exterior surface of the vehicle body is made rust proof. So, if any damage scrapes away the rustproof coating, the vehicle is then left open to oxidation process that helps in rusting. Despite the area around it is still being protected but the affected area can spread the rust easily. The uneven spreading of the rust can gradually damage larger surface of the body with time, which may be of big deal.
Things to mention further here is, not all the damages are immediate due to potholes. Some affected areas and parts can spread larger eventually due to repeated abuse form potholes.
The suspension system of the vehicle is made of spring that mainly works as a shock absorber. This spring under normal coercion will wear out after many ten thousands of miles. But the ridden roads notably decrease their lifespan, after prolonged exposure to such potholes. The thrust on the tire gradually shift towards the suspension system from tire, due to several exiting and entering a pothole. This cause a quicken wear. At times it is hard to notice the wear, because of the moderate degeneration over an extended time span. Despite the subtle nature, it is still a matter of concern. With the time as the strength of the suspension system deteriorates, the vehicle no longer engage itself to bumps, and starts bouncing unstably. If this is yet not a serious concern, means you are are exposing your vehicle to excessive bouncing and leaving for future encounters with potholes.
Further, a vehicle’s alignment is in endangerment due to repeated damage from potholes.
The alignment that is mainly responsible for making the vehicles drive straight is significant for even handling and wear of tires. A weak alignment will cause the tires to wear out unevenly and quicker, or during emergency manoeuvres the driver may effectively fail to control the vehicle. Similar case applies to the suspension system. Regardless to the exposure of potholes, the alignment of the vehicle needs to be addressed. It is significantly damaged and affected due to multiple times running over potholes. Though the consequences to the suspension system take time, but it is important to mention that any accidental angle of the tire on potholes can instantly damage these systems violently.
How to Avoid Potholes?
After going through all these above, you may feel bit concerned and worried now. Well, there’s nothing to worry because you can surely avoid such circumstances from happening by maintaining few steps while driving. From standpoint of driving, cautions like; avoiding any potholes when you see it, or driving slowly and safe are good preventative techniques but they are not always much effective, and sometimes it become impossible to avoid potholes if you are stuck in traffic or on a narrow lane.
=> Things you can do to avoid potholes:
- Slow down the speed: To improve the reaction time ratchet your vehicle’s speed. Hitting a pothole at lower speed will prevent any massive damage than that on higher speed.
- Leaving adequate space between you and the driver ahead of you: A very basic good driving skill comes with good practice and it becomes handy avoiding potholes. The more space between you and the other person, the more likely you are to notice a pothole and easily overcome it.
- Do not try to deviate violently after watching pothole: In order to escape a pothole does not swerve violently. In case of any avoidance manoeuvres should be done with levelled inputs in steering. Yanking the steering wheel to miss a pothole forcibly may cause loss in driving control and cause greater destruction, injury or may even death.
- Keep your vision high and concentrated: While you are driving always keep your eyes straight and not down searching for potholes. Vision is important while you are driving. Give quick glances to look for any potholes or danger and take actions accordingly.
- Watch out for water: If you are out for driving after any rainfall or snow then you should be bit more cautious. Potholes can be filled with water or snow which may act as a trick of even surface, which makes it harder to guess the depth of the hole. This makes it more dangerous. So, in case of doubt avoid it. Every year pothole damage account claims nearly 50,000 insurance.
- Avoid tailgate: Keep safe distance away from the vehicle in front of you. This will allow you to notice potholes beforehand and you will enough time to avoid it. It will reduce the chances of debris and stones from hitting your car. Therefore do not tailgate.
- Focused driving: Focus is the main thing when you are driving. Do not engage yourself into secondary activities such talking on phone, or random talking to the one who is with you. Never take your eye off from the road. A second destruction can make you miss a pothole leading severe damage.Keep both hands on steering at 3 & 9 o’clock position: Keeping your hands in a 9 & 3 o’clock position on steering wheels gives the best control. This gives you a best balance to the steer while driving and managing around the potholes. In such state you don’t even need to take your hands off the steering wheel while avoiding potholes.
- Exit slowly from pothole if stuck: If you are stuck into a pothole, never rush to come out of it. Lower speed reduces the jerk on the suspension system and the impact will be less.
If you ever had the misfortune of hitting into potholes then next time, try to keep these things in mind and have a safe driving experience. Additionally, do check your wheels and other necessary parts before taking out your car.
Claiming for Pothole Damages:
In recent days potholes are an increasing problem and is almost seen everywhere. This is causing safety hazards. The local council deals with such cases but only if you make an attempt in the first place, However, here are some ways to claim for pothole damages. You may be able to claim compensation if your car has suffered from pothole damage.
- Eye Witness: Wherever you are when the incident occurs, try to gather eyewitnesseswho have seen the accident. This may help you when you claim for damage.
- Notes taking: When and where the incident takes place, take note of everything. Take note of the place, shape & size of the pothole. If it is possible try to make a simple sketch of the pothole showing the area and type of the pothole, or may also take photographs for better proof.
- Get all Quotes: Do make sure you have all the quotes, garage receipts, and bills in one place and make sure you also have a photocopy of all these documents.
- Negotiation and Stay Prepared for Rejection: Have the will to negotiate. If the local authority or council makes you an offer, with any further thought you must consider it. In the mean while you can also claim for any repairs. Make your mind that you may be rejected by the council under the “58 act of the Highways Act” and also their right to the statutory defence.
- Weigh the pros and cons before claiming: If the compensation amount is below certain amount then it wouldn’t be fruitful to claim for it. Before claiming do all necessary research.
- Stay Calm: While dealing with the professionals of the council stay calm and don’t get hyper while claiming.
- First contact the authority of the Highways through emails.
- You can also contact via phone which is 24 x 7 services. Tell them all the problems that you have encountered cause of potholes, so that they know you have a valid reason for claiming.
- A form will be provided which you need to fill in and send it to the particular address.
I. Make sure you have a current MOT certificate.
II. Snapshots of the damages.
III. Within 90 days you will receive a decision about your claim.
Reporting through Online: These days all council departments have their own websites for pothole claims. You can easily fill the online claiming form on their website and claim for your damage.
These are all the essential information that you may require regarding Potholes. Help in keeping the economy safe and human friendly. Do not do anything at the worth of your life; safety is first at any cost.