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LTA: Potholes and How to Manage Your Driving Safely!

In Fiji it is a well-known fact that there is a pothole epidemic on our roads. A combination of traffic, wet weather and hot humid temperatures are the main cause
08 Oct 2019 16:17
LTA: Potholes and How to Manage Your Driving Safely!

In Fiji it is a well-known fact that there is a pothole epidemic on our roads.

A combination of traffic, wet weather and hot humid temperatures are the main cause of the craters on the tarmac, which means that following the period of rain we have just experienced potholes become worse and much more common.

The Fiji Roads Authority do their very best in difficult circumstances to deal with “potholes, repair damaged roads, and invest in keeping bridges open and safe”.
What kind of problems potholes can cause your vehicle?

What you can do to minimise the damage

Tyres
As the main point of contact between the road and your vehicle, your vehicle tyres will take on much of the impact felt as your vehicle drives over an uneven patch of the road.

As your tyre enters into a pothole, the distribution of the vehicle weight is shifted slightly and more pressure is
placed onto the one tyre that makes direct contact with the pothole.

The same thing happens again when the tyre leaves the pothole and as the edge of the crater strikes your tyre on exit, the force can cause a rupture, bulges or bubbles, misshape your tyre or even cause your tyre rims to
buckle and distort.

The depth and severity of the pothole as well as the angle and speed at which your vehicle hits it, will all affect the degree of damage to your tyres.

However, it goes without saying that the more times you drive over a pothole, the more likely you are to experience tyre problems.
Suspension and Wheel Alignment
Your vehicle suspension is designed to absorb the impact of driving and increase the smoothness of your ride however potholes can cause your vehicle tracking to become disrupted and your wheel alignment to be out of true.

The result of this can be uneven tyre wear, vehicle drifting to one side, a skewed steering wheel and vibration or a screeching or squeaking noise coming from your tyres.

What’s more, your vehicle will become less fuel-efficient and you could end up paying more to get your tyres replaced more often.

Correct wheel alignment is not only necessary for the condition of your tyres, but it is essential for safety on the roads – you do not want to be veering into oncoming traffic, experience a blowout in one of your tyres as you are driving along or be unable to move swiftly out of the way of an emergency.
Exhaust
In the majority of vehicles, exhaust pipes will run along the underside of the vehicle putting them
in prime position for contact with pothole edges.

Particularly severe potholes can cause the undercarriage of your car to scrape along the tarmac, which can result in denting or holes in exhaust pipes, mufflers or catalytic converters.

A hole in your cars exhausts system may produce noticeable noises, reduce the power of the car or even allow harmful exhaust fumes to enter into
the cabin and expose you and your passengers to a dangerous health hazard.

A damaged catalytic converter can also mean that your cars exhaust fumes have not been filtered properly and your car is pumping excessive amounts of harmful pollution into the atmosphere.
Body
Vehicles that are particularly low on the ground such as performance and sports cars are also at risk of experiencing body damage as a result of potholes.

Low placed bumpers can scrape against pothole craters, paintwork can be scratched more easily and dents are another risk.

Though this kind of damage won’t necessarily affect the safety or performance of your car, it can decrease the value of your vehicle as well as increase your cosmetic repair bill.

What you can do to minimise the damage:
It is impossible to completely avoid driving potholes, however there are a couple of things you can
do to mitigate the impact on your vehicle.
Be aware of potholes and slow down as you approach it – the faster you are driving when you hit
one, the more damaging it will be to your vehicle.
Leave a good amount of space between you and the driver in front to give yourself time to react
and prepare to slow down.
Puddles in the middle of the road are a sign of potholes, so drive through them with caution.
Do not brake as you hit a pothole as this can actually cause more damage
Keep your tyres properly inflated to the recommended pressure.
How to report a pothole.
The first thing to do before you report on potholes is to collect evidence of the pothole in question and the damage caused.

The best kind of evidence is photographs, so ensure that you take pictures of the pothole from different angles and try to indicate the depth of it by including an object like the nearest lamppost or tree to show the scale.

You should also take pictures of the damage to your vehicle.

Note down the name of the road and whereabouts on the road the pothole is situated i.e. near to a junction.

Remember the FRA are doing their very best to repair roads – so patience is essential on the part of all Fiji Motorists.

Feedback: jennis.naidu@fijisun.com.fj

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