Stay alert, slow down, don’t swerve: how to avoid and safely navigate potholes
Potholes are a common driving hazard capable of wreaking havoc on your vehicle. Knowing how to avoid – and in the worst case scenario, safely drive over them – is a must for all motorists.
There’s nothing like the ‘ker-thunk’ of driving over a pothole to make your stomach sink. The common road obstacle is more than just unpleasant too, with potholes capable of doing serious damage to your car – as well as your bank balance.
RACV’s My Country Road survey of 4,000 Victorians revealed that potholes are a leading safety concern on the state’s regional roads, though the driving hazard can form anywhere, including on urban streets.
But you don’t have to take potholes lying down. Find out how you can reduce your risk of hitting a pothole, how to get them fixed, and what to do if you’ve no choice but to hit a pothole.
What causes potholes?
Wet weather is the enemy when it comes to potholes, as demonstrated by the almost 43,000 potholes (and counting) repaired following Victoria’s 2022 October floods.
When water seeps into cracks in the road’s surface it causes the surface to weaken and split. This process is exacerbated by the pressure of vehicles travelling over the road, eventually leading to chunks of the asphalt coming away entirely – resulting in a pothole.
Once the primary pothole has formed, they can easily grow in size and depth. Vehicles passing over the pothole can progressively erode more and more asphalt, while rain or flooding can wash away more road surface. In cold regions, the freezing - and the consequent expansion – of water in the asphalt can result in potholes, as can heavy vehicle traffic travelling over roads not designed for their weight class.