Southern California may be known for its nearly perfect weather, but our perfect weather comes at a cost for area drivers. That cost is potholes. Unfortunately, in the Los Angeles metro area alone, potholes are costing each local driver almost $3,000 a year. The numbers are fairly close in other metro areas, like San Francisco or San Jose. If you are a driver and live in Southern California, you need to understand this risk and what you can do to keep yourself safe.
Potholes a Costly Problem
Potholes are more than just an annoyance. In Southern California, they create a serious cost hazard to area drivers. In a 2014 report from TRIP, a national transportation research group, wear and tear, traffic and crashes cost Los Angeles metro area drivers $2,826 a year. Just wear and tear on a vehicle was responsible for $892 in costs in 2014 and $1,031 in costs in 2013. That’s a significant impact on area drivers, and their wallets.
Los Angeles has a lot of pavement distress, according to the report. As many as 60% of the area’s roads were rated as “poor” in the report. Why is this? There’s no denying that Los Angeles has high amounts of traffic, and that makes road repair a difficult challenge to tackle. Los Angeles has some of the most heavily traveled roads in the country, and they are simply worn out. The transportation agencies in the city can’t keep up with repair needs, and this creates a serious risk for drivers.
How Potholes Impact Driver and Vehicle Safety
Driving over potholes regularly can put your vehicle at serious risk. One of the most obvious problems caused by potholes is a puncture of your tire. However, hidden wear and tear on the tires and wheels, which can cause a puncture down the road, is also a risk. Wheel rim damage can also put you at risk for a flat.
Tires and wheels aren’t the only systems affected by potholes. Hitting a pothole can cause wear on your vehicle’s shocks and struts, as well as the braking system. It can also cause damage to the suspension or knock the steering system out of alignment. Poor steering can contribute to higher fuel costs. Sometimes potholes damage the exhaust system, making it more difficult to pass emissions tests, and deep holes can lead to engine damage.
This damage to your car is costly, but it’s far less costly than damage to your person. Potholes can also put you at risk. Hitting a deep pothole creates trauma similar to a collision at 35 mph. You can lose control of your vehicle, and the pothole itself can cause trauma to your neck and spine.
How to Stay Safe
So if Southern California’s roads are so bad, and potholes are so dangerous, what can area drivers do to stay safe? First, be aware of the risk. If you see a pothole ahead, try to avoid hitting it. Straddle it with your wheels or swerve into the shoulder of the road, if possible. If you know a road you regularly use has a pothole problem, consider finding an alternate route. When you cannot avoid a pothole, slow down to hit it at a slower rate of speed. If you do hit a pothole and have an injury or damage to your car, make sure you consult with a personal injury attorney and file the necessary claim with the city to get properly reimbursed.