Tips for Effectively Navigating Through Potholes

Friday, February 14, 2014

Pothole Roads

Though everyone tries to avoid them, potholes are an inevitability on today's highways and back roads, caused by the erosion of pavement due to fluctuating temperatures and precipitation. And one thing that's been pretty common in Canada this winter is the mercury rising and falling with some frequency.

As a result, pothole season may be a particularly difficult one to mine through this year in order to avoid putting undue stress on one's car.



Ralph Palumbo, vice president for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, noted how potholes can do a number on a vehicle's upkeep, perhaps even requiring an auto insurance claim.

"Driving cautiously is always important, but more so on roads filled with potholes," said Palumbo. "The best advice for dealing with potholes is to avoid them and minimize potential damage if you strike one."

IBC recently put together some recommendations for how to best steer clear of "pothole pitfalls":

  • Don't jam on the brakes. Out of instinct, it may seem natural to slam on the brakes just before approaching a pothole. But this is actually the worst thing you can do, as it can lead to more damage resulting from the sudden jolting of the car.

  • If pothole can't be avoided, keep foot off brake. There will be those occasions where hitting a pothole is inevitable, whether it's due to there not being room to avoid it or because it came as a surprise. In these scenarios, let off the brake just before entering it so that the impact can be better absorbed.

  • Maintain firm grasp on steering wheel. While you don't want to hold onto the steering wheel so tight that you tense up, it's best to give it a good grip so as not to lose control of the vehicle.

  • Small potholes may be quite large. When rainwater is in a pothole, it may seem like the depression is small, when in fact, it may be quite large. For this reason, so long as it's safe to do so, avoid these potholes by driving around them.

IBC also noted that if it's desired, a car insurance claim can be filed, so long as the policy includes collision protection. Alternatively, because the damage resulting from potholes tends to be minor, it may be best to pay for the repair costs out of pocket.

What can often seem like potholes but are something else entirely are frost heaves. Typically occurring in northern climates, these occurs when ice forms beneath the soil that expand through temperature variation and a water supply. They can usually be felt when driving on the road. They're rarely so significant, though that they result in damage.