Local Fawnskin Vehicle Victim of Potholes

Guess I was pretty timely with the commentary on potholes yesterday because during my amble into town I discovered that Cynthia’s vehicle sustained a broken caliper from traveling our lovely mountain roads. Fortunately, one of the local guys was fixing it for her.

Since I had been lamenting over the dangers of the deep and poorly marked potholes spanning about 1/4 of the road on North Shore Drive, I thought that was interesting.

My pal from the East Coast said that front end damage, tire loss, and other vehicle damage is common from potholes. We get them here every year and they eventually get fixed. I am watching some of the local ones (where Garden Place meets North Shore Drive) expand due to the runoff.

The pothole conditions I have been seeing are due to the fact that our roads continue to freeze and thaw. Then the runoff water begins to erode the dirt beneath them and when the asphalt cracks or collapses it forms a crater like the picture above. In some cases, especially over here, it looks like the damage is because the drains for runoff have been blocked by berms during regular snow plow activities.

The big problem is that many drivers zoom down the highway roads too quickly and don’t always see what is ahead around the next turn—and when they can’t avoid pothole road hazards they sustain damage to their cars.

This damage can be instant, such as a punctured tire, or cumulative over time, in the case of tire or steering alignment. I did some checking around and pothole vehicle damage is thought to account for about 500,000 insurance claims per year.

Pothole damage can include:

Damage (bulging) to the sidewall area of the tire. If you experience a sudden impact and you have aluminum-based rims consider having your tires checked by your tire specialist.

Dents, leaking, or rusting. Impact in a deep pothole can dent the undercarriage. Damage to the undercarriage or engine mounting area can result in leaking.

Misalignment or damage to the shock absorption systems. Hitting a pothole at high speed gives your suspension system a jolt. Cumulative damage may make springs and struts less resilient eventually resulting in a rougher ride.

Steering and tire misalignment after long periods of impact with potholes. A misaligned vehicle may pull to one direction or another. Proper wheel alignment impacts the lifespan of the tires and driver safety.

My big question is, where does the liability and reimbursement for repairs fall? Some municipalities apparently take responsibility for pothole damage but it seems that most local governments do not.

So, that means drivers who sustain pothole vehicle damage will have to take the damage to their insurance company or just pay out of pocket.

Why is that? Most local government’s find that it is in their best interest to provide a temporary or permanent pothole fix, but the responsibility for avoiding a pothole (and any damage resulting from potholes) generally falls on the individual driver.

So, slow down and keep your eyes open–and it might help to report local potholes–especially when they span over half a lane such as the one on North Shore Drive. I figure they are aware of the damage already since they have a sign and cones off to the side of the road near the road damage.

You might like this older pothole damage interview with the Independent Insurance Agents of America.

I did some checking around and found that if a hazard is reported and then not corrected, in some cases you will have damage recourse if the road repairs are not done in a timely manner. Here is the link to the CalTrans maintenance service request form–which is applicable to any hazard on a local highway.

Finally, here is a link to the San Bernardino County Risk Management and the San Bernardino Transportation Department.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 20th, 2008 and is filed under Mountain Lake Resort.

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