The Driver’s Guide to Surviving Pothole Season in New York

Howard Raphaelson
Partner, Attorney
Car Tire In A Pothole

Spring -- the season that brings balmy days, budding trees, and colorful flowers to New York City streets also brings something much less welcome -- an increase in the number of potholes, and with it, pothole accidents.

If you drive in New York City, you know that potholes are always a problem. In springtime, however, the situation is worse than usual. Year after year, winter's gift of snow and ice leaves its unforgiving toll on our sidewalks and streets. If you think you're seeing more potholes in New York City this spring, it's not your imagination.

Knowing how to avoid these springtime road defects will save you and your family a costly trip to the mechanics, or even worse, a scary trip to the Emergency Room.

How Bad Of A Problem Are Potholes in New York City?

You might be surprised to hear that NYC isn't the city with the worst roads in the U.S.  In fact, among U.S. cities with populations greater than half a million, the roads in the New York-Newark metropolitan area are only the 19th worst in the country.  (It's nothing to write home about, but at least we can say we're better than 18 other metropolitans). In fact, three cities in California lead the list of U.S. cities with the worst roads, with the San Francisco-Oakland area being the worst of the worst.

Road conditions in NYC vary a lot, however, depending on where in the city you are driving.  Queens and the Bronx have the best roads in the city, with 70.3 percent of the roads in Queens and 66 percent in the Bronx being rated "good." By contrast, in Manhattan, only 57.3 percent of the roads received a "good" rating.Within Manhattan, your chances of driving into a pothole depend on what neighborhood you are in.  The West Harlem/Morningside Heights area has the dubious honor of having the worst roads, with only 34.1 percent rated "good."

What Are the Costs of Poor Road Conditions?

Potholes and poor road conditions, in general, do more than make your ride uncomfortably bumpy. A pothole filled road can damage vehicles, driving up operating costs for owners, or even worse, cause accidents.

Vehicle Damage

Hitting potholes takes a toll on cars and other vehicles, potentially throwing vehicles out of alignment and damaging tires. That means more repairs and also higher fuel costs, greater tire wear, and accelerated depreciation.In New York State as a whole, damage caused by poorly maintained roads costs vehicle owners collectively $6.3 billion every year. These costs hit drivers the hardest in New York City, where a recent study found that individual vehicle owners paid an average of $694 more each year for the additional costs associated with driving on poor roads, a higher cost than drivers paid in other cities in the state.

Automobile Accidents

An astonishing one-third of all deaths in traffic accidents throughout the country involve poor road conditions. Driving over a deep pothole can easily cause a car or truck to temporarily lose control which may cause the driver to overcorrect, often leading to an accident. Similarly, if a driver isn't aware of the surrounding traffic, the initial reaction to swerve to avoid the pothole could result in a side-impact collision with a vehicle in their blind spot.

Motorcycle Accidents

While cars and trucks can be damaged by a road blemish, potholes pose an even greater risk to motorcyclists. In general, motorcycles are more vulnerable to accidents but when riding at moderate speeds running over a pothole can be fatal. According to the NY DOT, defective roads cause over 80 motorcycle accidents every year. Motorcycles do not have the same balance as a car or truck, meaning what may appear as a minor pothole to many can actually cause a motorcycle tire to get stuck, stopping the cycle and ejecting the driver.

How To Survive Pothole Season In New YorkReport Potholes To The New York DOT

Everyone can play a part in helping improve the problem of potholes in NYC. If you see or hit a pothole, report it to the New York City Department of Transportation. To report a pothole the City has two simple forms, depending on the location of the damage. You can even track the progress of "your" pothole's repair on the City's site.

Report a pothole using one of these simple online forms:

Improve Your Driving Techniques

To protect your tires, try to avoid hitting potholes whenever possible. When you can't avoid them, the Rubber Manufacturers Association recommends that you don't brake when you hit the pothole. Instead, apply the brakes before you hit the pothole to slow down, and release them before you actually hit the pothole. Then roll across it.

When driving on New York City streets, you have to expect the unexpected.  You can hit a pothole or encounter other dangerous road conditions at any time, with little or no warning.  So you should make a habit of driving safely every time you are behind the wheel. Don't speed. Consistently make safe driving decisions. Otherwise, hitting a pothole could cause a car accident.

If you do get involved in an accident involving a pothole, know that you have legal rights. To find out more, talk to an attorney with experience in pothole accidents and automobile accidents involving poor road conditions. Contact Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm by completing the free evaluation form or call 212-268-3222.

Howard Raphaelson
Partner, Attorney
Howard A. Raphaelson founded Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm, P.C. in 1992 after graduating from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City, NY. With over thirty years of experience as a personal injury lawyer, he has earned a trusted reputation from his peers, judges, and top leaders, including recognition among the top 5% injury attorneys as a “Super Lawyer” (Thomson Reuters) and “New York’s Best Lawyers” (New York Magazine).

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