After a sometimes brutal winter, spring’s warmer weather comes as welcome relief — except for what it does to the road. April is prime pothole season, and every vehicle on the road is a potential victim.
While a pothole can form at any time of the year, they really “spring up” after winter. The wear and tear on the road from traffic causes small cracks in the asphalt, that allow water to seep in to the soil below. When temperature drop low enough, the water freezes and expands, putting force on the pavement that causes it to rise. Once the temperature rises again there’s a little pocket beneath the surface that eventually causes the pavement to break. And so, spring means lots of potholes.
Even the best state DOT has trouble keeping up with repairs on the highways, and truck stop parking lots can turn into tire-eating landmines. So drivers need to be aware of the road ahead of them. Even a small pothole can do damage to a truck and some of the larger ones present real danger.
Getting through pothole season
All the standard safe driving precautions become even more important when traveling a road riddled with craters.
Maintain recommended tire pressure. An over-inflated or under-inflated tire increases the possibility of incurring damage when a truck hits a pothole.
Keep a safe distance. If the road is damaged, the car ahead will probably slow down or swerve a bit. Truckers will need to be prepared for that behavior, and take it as an indication to be cautious when they come to that spot in the road.
Take it slow. A semi is not usually going to be able to swerve around a pothole on the highway, but slowing down can minimize the risk of serious damage.
Be vigilant about checking the truck. Since there’s greater risk in incurring damage after hitting a pothole, it’s wise to take some time to check tires and wheels soon afterward. Damage may also occur from flying debris if a nearby vehicle hits a pothole, so it pays to be especially thorough in pre-trip inspections, too.
Report dangerous potholes. Contact the manager, or the corporate customer service line, for truck stop potholes and the state DOT for highways in need of repair. They can’t fix it if they don’t know about it.
Expect road repairs. It probably won’t happen as quickly as drivers would like, but the potholes will eventually be repaired. Those work zones will almost certainly have an impact on traffic, so factor in extra time for the delays they cause.