The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, the potholes are forming
Rapid, steep temperature swings between brutal cold and spring-like warmth. Torrential rains, ice and snow. Typical conditions for the dregs of winter and early spring in East Tennessee? Yes, but these are also conditions that produce potholes in our roads. And pothole season is upon us, so watch out while driving.
Potholes can flatten tires, damage wheels, struts, shock absorbers and suspension systems and throw vehicles out of alignment. On Interstates or busy municipal thoroughfares, potholes can even cause traffic pileups. So it's best to take a proactive approach to avoiding them.
To keep your vehicle safe from potholes, before you drive, make sure your tires are properly inflated. Tires inflated to the correct pressure are your vehicle’s first line of defense against potholes. If possible, plan to take familiar, well-lighted routes on which you will notice when a pothole is forming. If you must take unfamiliar roads, drive with caution and follow the suggestions below.
When driving, slow down, and pay attention to the flow of traffic ahead to see whether other drivers swerve to avoid obstacles. Maintain plenty of space cushion between you and the vehicle ahead so you can scan the road. Watch for potholes, obviously, but also keep an eye out for puddles, because pooled water can conceal a rut or gouge in the road beneath its depths.
Even when diligently trying to dodge our roadways’ concrete cavities, you may not be able to escape them. If you find yourself about to run over a pothole, don't slam on the brakes. This will pitch the car forward and create extra stress on the front suspension, which could lead to greater damage when the tire hits the hole.
If your vehicle strikes a pothole, pull over at the first place it is safe to do so and visually inspect the car yourself. Clearly, a flat needs immediate attention. But lower tire pressure or bulging sidewalls are also signs of tire damage, which you need to have taken care of right away. Other damage, such as dented wheels, out-of-alignment wheels or suspension problems, may not be immediately obvious. But if you suspect a pothole has damaged your vehicle, make an appointment as soon as possible with Free Service Tire.
Potholes or other problems with road surfaces should be reported to the authorities. In East Tennessee, to report a pothole on a road maintained by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, call the East Tennessee Regional Office at 865-594-2403 or e-mail them at TDOT.Comments@tn.gov. For streets maintained by the City of Knoxville, call the Civil Engineering Section at 865-215-6100 to report a pothole. Call the Knox County Engineering and Public Works at 865-215-5800 to report a pothole on county roads.