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How to avoid potholes and what to do if you hit one, according to experts

Encountering potholes in the road while driving is almost inevitable, especially after the cold winter months. Still, with a chance of severe damage being done to your car, it can be hard to know what to do if you find yourself hitting one. 

It is also tricky to navigate how to avoid potholes in the road while keeping yourself and your passengers safe, which is why it is also important to know some preventive measures you can take to avoid as much damage as possible. 

Experts have put together some top tips for avoiding potholes and what to do if you find yourself hitting one. 

How to avoid a pothole and how to prevent serious damage to your car if you do hit one:  

  • A two-second distance could make all the difference – This rule is famously exercised by driving instructors and involves ensuring you are keeping enough space between yourself and the car in front. Leaving a two-second distance between yourself and the car behind will give you time to react if the vehicle in front hits a pothole, leaving you enough time to slow down, assess the situation and safely avoid hitting the pothole yourself. 
  • Take extra caution on unmarked roads – Adapting your driving to the road conditions is always important. Plenty of unmarked roads have no suggested speed limit signs, meaning the national speed limit applies at 60mph, which can be detrimental if you hit a pothole at this speed.  
  • Keep your tyres in good condition – Maintaining the right tyre pressure for your vehicle is a must if you want to reduce the potential damage potholes on roads in terrible conditions can cause. Ensure your tyres aren't overinflated or underinflated, as this will lower the risk of tyre blows, punctures and suspension damage.  
  • Keep a secure grip on your steering wheel – Steering can be greatly affected when you hit a pothole, so it is important to always keep a firm grip on the wheel to prevent the risk of swerving off the road. You should constantly have at least one hand firmly on the wheel, whether you are driving a manual or automatic vehicle. 

Steps to take if you have hit a pothole: 

  • Refrain from slamming on your breaks – Although it can be a knee-jerk reaction to hit the breaks as soon as you hit a pothole, this can cause even more damage than if you were to slowly reduce your speed before getting out in a safe place to assess your vehicle. By slamming on the brakes, you are putting more strain and compression onto the vehicle's suspension, which could cause misalignment, tyre and wheel damage and body or exhaust scrapes. 
  • Check for damage – Pull over when it is safe to do so and check your vehicle for any damage. Look out for any dents, scrapes or visible damage to your wheels or tyres. If you are confident you have avoided any severe damage to your car cosmetically, when you get back into your vehicle, keep an eye out for any changes in the way it drives – for example, any vibrations or if your car pulls to the side. 
  • Report the pothole – You might want to take it upon yourself to report the pothole, which is extremely easy to do, and the outcome depends on what type of road the pothole is on or if the pothole has already been reported. If you were driving on the motorway when you hit the pothole, you should contact National Highways. If you weren't on the motorway, you should find out who the local council is as they are responsible for fixing the road. 
  • Making a claim – You are well within your rights to make a claim for damage caused by a pothole. You will need to take note of the road on which you hit the pothole, as well as the date, time, and weather conditions. If you are on a motorway and you hit a pothole, make a note of the nearest driver location sign – these are small blue signs positioned every 500 metres along a motorway with specific location information. You should also note your direction of travel.

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