With the spring season comes the emergence of pothole hazards

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While most of us are more than happy to see winter in the rearview mirror, the melting snow and ice always takes a toll on the roads and highways across New York in the form of potholes.

These maddening road defects will become an increasingly familiar sight here in the city in the coming weeks, creating real headaches for motorists trying to navigate the streets and wreaking havoc on the mechanical wellbeing of their vehicles.    

Indeed, a recent study by the American Automobile Association found that drivers here in the U.S. have spent roughly $15 billion on vehicle repairs related to pothole damage over the last five years, while the transportation research firm The Road Information Project has determined that driving on poor road surfaces costs the average driver as much as $1,044 per year.

All of this naturally raises the question as to how these ubiquitous road risks are even formed.

In general, potholes are formed via a four-step process:

  1. Rain or snow seeps into the soil sitting below the road surface (i.e., pavement) and its sub-base
  2. When the temperature drops, this moisture freezes and causes the soil to expand, pushing the sub-base and pavement upward
  3. When the temperature begins to rise, the soil and the sub-base reverts to their normal state. However, this process leaves a gap between the sub-base and the still elevated pavement
  4. As vehicles continue to drive over this gap — or cavity — it becomes steadily weaker and collapses. A pothole is thus created.

It’s important to understand that as much as potholes can prove to be a nuisance and a drain on pocketbooks, they can also present a very real safety hazard to motorists and bicyclists if they become too wide or too deep.

If you don’t believe it, consider how an especially deep pothole could catch an unsuspecting bicyclist completely off guard, causing them to lose control and suffer serious personal injuries in the ensuing fall.

If you or a loved one has been injured by any type of road defect, remember that you have rights and you have options for holding the city or state accountable for failing to keep things safe.    

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