WASHINGTON — The latest freeze-thaw cycle has taken its toll on the roads. Orphaned hubcaps have been found strewn along shoulders, leaning on jersey walls, laying in culverts — footstones for travelers who have fallen victim to the region’s eruption of potholes.
To many drivers, this season’s bloom of potholes seems to have produced more crater-sized menaces in the roadbeds than usual. Some travelers have wound up disabled on the roadside after striking them.
The region has seen some extreme temperature swings so far this winter, and they’ve had a sizable impact on area road surfaces. Record highs were set in late December; January was one of the coldest in recent memory, but highs by the first weekend of this month soared well into the 60s.
“We always see an increase in pothole claims towards the end of winter and spring,” says Anna Bryant, spokesperson for State Farm Insurance.
Bryant says that the average pothole claim can cost between $300 and $700.
What can you do to reduce the risk of incurring damage?
“Take roads you know well. As you get familiar with roads, you’ll start to see where those roads may be crumbling. If you’re driving at night, try to drive on well-lit roads so that way you can see the surface and see the pothole before you hit it. Third, you want to slow down. You want to give yourself a chance to see the pothole … before you hit it,” she says.
Often, it’s difficult to avoid potholes, especially when driving at highway speeds. If other vehicles or poor reaction time force you to run over a pothole, Bryant says the best course of action is to slow down as much as possible and let off the brakes before you make contact.
“The best thing to do is not brake as you hit the pothole. You’ll find it does less damage to your car if you are rolling over it as opposed to skidding over it, which happens when you brake,” Bryant says.
Wondering how you can report potholes to the city? Find the numbers on WTOP.com.