As sure as spring brings new buds on trees – it also brings trouble on the roads.
The pothole problem has surfaced a lot earlier this year than in years past.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation says since January, close to 5,600 potholes have been reported statewide with more than a third of them in Wake County.
NCDOT blames back-to-back winter storms for allowing the pothole cycle to begin so quickly this year.
Potholes are caused when water to get into cracks, freezes, thaws, then refreezes – crumbling the roadway asphalt.
It keeps road repair crews busy.
“Most recently they’ve been working six days a week trying to catch up with all of them,” said NCDOT spokesman Steve Abbott.
Since January, he says 2,775 potholes have been reported to NCDOT in Wake County. Compare that to 297 potholes reported to the NCDOT in Durham County.
Potholes can damage your suspension and steering, throw your wheels out of alignment and damage your tires and rims.
The Car Care Council says pothole damage warning signs to your vehicle include:
- Swaying during routine turns, or excessive bouncing on rough roads
- Pulling in one direction or uneven tire wear
- Dents in tire rims or bulges in tire sidewalls
Many drivers want to know, can you sue for pothole damage repairs? It depends on the circumstances.
“Let’s say a pothole opens up at 5 a.m. and you hit it at 8 a,m,, we’re not going to know about it and we’re not liable in that case,” says Abbott.
But, if the pothole has been reported and repair crews haven’t gotten to it in what’s considered a “reasonable amount of time,” then your claim could be approved if the Attorney General’s Office determines the claim is valid.
If the Attorney General’s Office denies the claim, drivers can appeal to the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
But, how do you go about reporting potholes in the most direct and timely way?
The City of Raleigh uses a website called See/Click/Fix, which acknowledges the issue and provides updates.
“If you click on that and send it, it goes right to the maintenance office,” said Abbott. For example, he says, if you use the website to report a pothole at 8pm, it’ll be on the repair list the next morning so that crews can tackle it.
He says phone calls and emails take more time to get that information to repair crews because they have to be routed to the right place.
The NCDOT website even has a link on its website to file a damage claim.
The AAA says potholes do an estimated $3 billion in damage a year, with the average pothole repair costing about $300.