Doing the Pothole Polka With our Vehicles

Doing the Pothole Polka With our Vehicles
Prepare for the "Pothole Polka."

I am going to boldly state that drivers living in the Great Lakes Region are the most prepared drivers on the road. Do you think I am kidding? Seriously, look into your trunk or under your hatch and I will bet you have at least two of the following items: a blanket, an ice scraper, windshield washer fluid, a flashlight, fix-a-flat, a small shovel, a tool set, road salt (or sand, or kitty litter), engine coolant, motor oil, rags, a tow rope and a folding chair (or two) for calling "dibs" on your freshly shoveled parking space. Despite the fact that most of us Great Lakes drivers have a mini trading post located in the rear of our vehicles, we somehow are still seemingly never prepared for the other seasonal challenge that awaits us once we get on the road; Potholes. As we thaw out of this perpetual onslaught of winter weather called the "Polar Vortex" (Seriously, who names this crap?), we must now remember how to do Pothole Polka- that seasonal dance we subject our vehicles to, in order to prevent flat tires or bent axles. To devise the best evasive maneuvers, I decided to do some light research and understand exactly what a pothole is and how it is formed. For those of you who have a minute or so to spare and who don't want to read a lengthy explanation that I don't want to write, here is a video that simply explains just that:

Upon learning about how a pothole is formed and how a divot can quickly expand into a cavern, I have surmised that the best thing that all of us motorists can do is to either "straddle" or safely swerve to avoid a pothole. These actions serve two purposes: 1. Prevention of obvious tire/rim and/or axle damage to our vehicles. Like standing water in a roadway, we don't know the exact depth of a pothole (especially one filled with water or snow) so it is in our best interest to completely avoid driving through one if at all possible. 2. By driving through a pothole, the weight of our vehicles puts additional stress upon an already weakened surface, thereby making the pothole bigger and deeper with each passing vehicle. So now that we know how to avoid them, then how do we go about getting them repaired?

The City of Chicago's Pothole Tracker

The City of Chicago's Pothole Tracker

If you live in the City of Chicago, you have a few options that can lead to (eventual) relief. If you see a pothole that requires immediate attention (like one big enough to warrant a topographic map), you can simply call 311 and report it, or if you are antisocial and prefer the hum of a hard disk to the voice of a human, then simply CLICK HERE to report the traffic menace online. However, if you were among the unfortunate who literally hit the pothole jackpot and damaged your vehicle on one of over 200,000 potholes in the city, then there is some relief for you as well. The City of Chicago has a claims department where you can report and submit repair costs incurred from hitting potholes by CLICKING HERE. Granted, you might not get complete reimbursement, but at least you might be able to get some "dignity money" for your troubles- provided the City Council approves your claim. The other option is to avoid potholes completely by checking out the City of Chicago's Pothole Tracker and adjusting your commute accordingly.

Reporting Hazards via Waze

Reporting Hazards via Waze

For those of you who may not have a three digit number to dial or a City Council to decide if your unfortunate accident is worthy of taxpayer money, then I suggest contacting your local municipality's department of transportation. Considering that potholes are an unfortunate part of the the Great Lakes landscape, most municipalities have resources dedicated to pothole reporting and repair. You can also do your diligence making use of the Waze app during your commutes to report and warn other motorists of potholes and other road hazards as well. After all, we do share these roads and should make whatever effort we can to make driving our vehicles as pleasurable as possible.

- Johnny "Bones" Basile

Are potholes pissing you off? Don't get bent out of shape like your wheels and vent your frustrations in the comment section below!

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