As a driver, you no doubt know that potholes are annoying, but are you aware of just how dangerous they can be? The dangers of potholes go way beyond just vehicular damage (although, it’s estimated that the damage caused by potholes costs UK drivers £1.7 billion annually). In this article we’ll look at how potholes form, the dangers they pose and why they are not something that should be ignored and left unfixed.
How are Potholes Formed?
Potholes are plentiful across the UK. They litter our roads and nowadays it seems like you can’t drive for more than a few minutes before encountering another one. Potholes vary greatly in size and shape, from tiny ones to ones that seem large enough to swallow your car whole. They are formed by the expansion of water when it freezes under the pavement.
Water gets into the ground under the surface of the pavement, where it becomes tapped. If it freezes, it will expand, causing the pavement to bend and crack, weakening it. When the ice melts, the pavement contracts and leaves behind gaps. Water can then continue to get trapped in those gaps, and if continues to freeze and thaw over and over, the pavement will keep weakening and cracking.
This is then further worsened by vehicles that pass over these weak spots. The pavement material eventually displaces, broken down from the weight of passing traffic, and this displacement creates a pothole.
Why are they Dangerous?
Can Cause You to Lose Control
Driving over a pothole can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle. If a wheel becomes lodged in a pothole, it can cause a car to swerve sideways. And for those driving two-wheeled vehicles, it can cause them to flip over. This could have disastrous consequences for the driver, other vehicles on the road and any pedestrians close by.
Can Cause Damage to Vehicles
Probably the most infamous problem with potholes is the potential for them to cause potentially catastrophic damage to a vehicle. The first part of a vehicle to hit a pothole is the tires, and these can be punctured or go flat after being hit. It might not even happen immediately, but the hit could weaken the tire’s belts and cords and lead to a blowout further down the road. Potholes can also have a detrimental effect on a car’s suspension system, causing wear and tear on shocks and struts.
Potholes could even throw off your car’s alignment, preventing your car from driving straight. Besides making it more difficult to handle, you could end up with uneven tire wear. If the pothole is big enough, it is also possible that hoses and lines could be punctured, resulting in fluid leakage.
Can Cause Accidents by Avoidance
Drivers may instinctively swerve dangerously to avoid a pothole. This could create traffic accidents that are indirectly being caused by potholes. When trying to make an evasive manoeuvre, always use the vehicle’s mirrors to ensure it’s safe to do so. If avoidance isn’t possible, drive over the pothole slowly and carefully, keeping the steering wheel straight to minimise the impact.
Can Cause Injury
In addition to the damage caused to vehicles, the force of driving over a pothole could cause significant impact injuries to those inside the vehicle. Jolt-induced injuries such as whiplash, concussions, neck and spinal cord trauma and broken bones could occur. Similarly, if the pothole causes the driver to lose control of the vehicle, they could cause potential injury to drivers of other vehicles or pedestrians on the pavement.
Potholes are a dangerous hazard and definitely not something you should leave and ignore. If you’re looking for pothole repair services, look no further than GTG Groundworks. Contact us for more information.