Minimizing the damage caused by potholes

Minimizing the damage caused by potholes

Spring is pothole season for Canadian drivers. While they may be unavoidable, there are ways of minimizing the damage they cause.

National Bank General Insurance
31 March 2016

What’s a pothole?

A pothole is the end result of damage to a road's surface. Potholes aren't an overnight phenomenon; they develop gradually. For a hole to appear in the street, there needs to be a crack first.

Cracks can be caused by a number of factors, such as traffic, the freezing/thaw cycle, poor road construction, and impacts. Over time, the passage of vehicles over a crack will cause it to grow and multiply.

Water then seeps into it and expands when it freezes. This is the final straw for the road's surface. It's just a matter of time before enough vehicles pass over the gap and cause it to collapse, leaving a pothole.

Avoiding potholes

Ideally, you should try to avoid driving into potholes. In springtime in the city, it's best to slow down and be attentive. Please don't treat the road like a slalom course! This may help you avoid one or two potholes, but it will endanger other people on the road, particularly pedestrians who can't predict your sudden moves.

To safely avoid potholes, you have to be able to see them. Leave a little more space than usual between your car and the one in front of you, and beware of puddles on the road, as they often conceal deep potholes.

If you can't avoid a pothole

If a pothole is unavoidable, follow those tips :

  • Don't hit your brakes at the last minute. This can actually cause more damage to your vehicle.
  • Slow down and let off the brakes the moment before you hit the pothole, allowing your car to absorb the blow. (After all, that's what shock absorbers are for!)
  • Hold the steering wheel tightly to avoid losing control of your vehicle.

If your car is damaged

If there is a reoccurring loss of air pressure in your tires, your wheel rims are bent or dented, you feel vibrations in the wheel or the seat, or your steering wheel is off centre, your car may have been damaged by a pothole. More obvious signs include a missing bumper or damage to the body of your car.

If you added collision coverage to your car insurance contract, the damage may be covered and your insurer may be able to help you. This will depend on whether the amount of damage exceeds the amount of your deductible.

Avoid these worst-case scenarios and drive carefully.

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