Why Springtime Is Pothole Season and What That Means for Drivers

Posted in Car Accident on March 9, 2022

Although Middle Tennessee’s winters usually aren’t particularly harsh compared to other parts of the country, springtime is still a welcome relief from short and cold days. However, the arrival of blooming plants and colorful leaves also means an increased risk on the road. More people hit the road for vacations and weekend getaways during the spring, and increased traffic volumes can result in more crashes.

And while you may think that the road surfaces themselves are safer in the spring due to the lack of ice and snow, a new danger pops up: potholes. Potholes start making appearances in late winter and early spring due to the effects of rainwater entering cracks in the asphalt. When the water inside those cracks freezes, it expands, putting pressure on the asphalt. Eventually, that causes damage that turns into potholes.

Potholes Can Cause Severe Vehicle Damage

Thankfully, most potholes in and around Nashville are small. You may not even notice them when you drive over them. But some are wide and deep. When people drive over these potholes, they risk serious vehicle damage.

Depending on their size and depth, potholes can cause damage to tires, wheels, suspension, steering, and even the body of a vehicle. In extreme cases, potholes can cause so much damage to vehicles that they are “totaled,” which means the price of the repairs costs more than the vehicles are worth.

Another common consequence of driving over and into a pothole is an alignment issue. You may not see or notice any damage to your vehicle right away, but the pothole may have subtly or significantly moved one or more of your tires out of alignment. That means your vehicle may “pull” to one side and your tires will wear unevenly.

Potholes Can Also Result in Crashes

In addition to having the potential to cause serious vehicle damage, potholes can also cause accidents. When drivers hit potholes, they can cause tire blowouts, which can make it difficult or impossible for them to steer safely. That can result in them crashing into other vehicles or objects.

Another common cause of pothole-related crashes is drivers swerving to avoid them. To avoid a pothole damaging their vehicle, a driver may suddenly make a sharp turn to avoid it. But in the process of trying to avoid the pothole, they may drift into other lanes, into the path of oncoming traffic, or even directly into another vehicle.

In some cases, potholes can appear seemingly overnight, making them especially dangerous to drivers on their daily commutes. Because they weren’t there the day before, drivers may be taken by surprise and instinctively swerve to avoid them, putting themselves and others on the road at risk of crashes.

What Can You Do About Potholes?

Safe driving during late winter and early spring means being aware of potholes and prepared to encounter them on the road. To reduce your risks of potholes causing serious damage to your vehicle, ensure your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread. You should also inspect your wheels for signs of damage. Damaged wheels are more likely to bend or break from potholes.

Never swerve or slam on your brakes to avoid a pothole, as doing so could cause a crash. Instead, reduce your speed. If you can avoid the pothole while remaining in your lane, do so. If not, change lanes only if you have clearance to do so.

Finally, report potholes to the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT). Because there are thousands of potholes at any given time throughout the state, TDOT relies on reports from drivers to know when and where to repair them. Use the TDOT website to contact your regional office for assistance and to report any potholes you see.

Watch Out For Rocks

When driving during late winter and early spring, it’s not just potholes you need to watch out for – rocks can also pose a significant threat to your vehicle. Just ask anyone who’s had their windshield shattered by a stray stone on the interstate.

One important tip to minimize the risk of rock damage is to maintain a safe distance from the car in front of you. Interestingly, if the damage caused by a rock is smaller than the size of a dollar bill, it can often be patched rather than necessitating a full replacement. Plus, don’t forget to check with your insurance company, as they may cover the cost of the patch, saving you from a hefty bill. So, while you’re keeping an eye out for potholes this spring, don’t forget to watch out for rocks too – they can pack quite a punch.

Crash Caused by a Negligent Driver? You May Be Eligible for Compensation.

Potholes can cause crashes, but they’re low on the list when it comes to contributing factors. Most crashes in Middle Tennessee still come down to driver negligence and three factors: speeding, driving while distracted, and driving while impaired. If you or someone you love gets injured in a crash that’s not your fault, our Nashville auto accident lawyers want to help.

Contact the experienced legal team at Matt Hardin Law today for a free consultation. We want to help you get the money you’re owed for your medical bills and lost wages.