Friday, January 31, 2014

The Pain of Potholes: One More Thing to Endure This Winter

If your drive to work in the morning is anything similar to mine, you understand the dismal pothole situation happening on Grand Rapids roads.  I have mastered the art of the quick swerve to avoid pummeling my car into an unexpected pothole.  Not only are we dealing with loads of snow and ice this winter, but driving around Grand Rapids has become similar to a video game in which the goal is to master the side-to-side maneuver to avoid hitting a pothole, not to mention another car.  

TRIP, a Washington D.C. based national transportation nonprofit, estimated that the average Grand Rapids driver spends $1,027 in repairs per year driving on faulty and unsafe roads.  An annual pavement analysis for Grand Rapids stated that the condition of roads in the city improved in 2013.  Some experts believe the improvement statistics are due to “short-term fixes,” that will eventually become faulty, which is perhaps what we drivers are experiencing this winter.  The Metro Council put out a report in 2013 which documented the overall pavement conditions of the Grand Rapids area road network.  They concluded:

 “Continued under investment in the core transportation infrastructure combined with the loss of buying power for local municipalities has resulted in the worst conditions since GVMC started doing surveys in the mid 1990’s.”

The City of Grand Rapids awarded some money last year for pothole damage claims.  They also denied fifty-five claims; most they stated were not reported correctly, thus they had no knowledge of the pothole and no chance to fix it, according to a report from the comptroller’s office.  There are proper steps to filing a claim of pothole damage on your car to the city.  Make sure you document the time and location of the pothole, and photograph both the damages and the pothole; similar to if you were filing a claim with your insurance agency.  Take all the appropriate steps to ensure you have a chance at an award for your damages.  

Along with trying to get damages paid for, we all want to make sure our cars are all right after this treacherous winter.  Take a few simple steps to check if your car has pothole damage.  Check your tires first for flats or punctures, inspect your tire rims for dents, and make sure your shocks and struts are properly maintained.  The smartest thing to do after nailing a huge pothole is take your car into your auto mechanic for a quick inspection.  That pothole can cause further damage than you would think.  Better safe than sorry; especially when it comes to funding repairs.

This winter will have tested not only our stamina as Michigan residents, but the durability of our vehicles too.  I hope that the Grand Rapids Streets and Sanitation Department takes a close look at the condition of our roads and comes to a solution that will protect our vehicles in the future.