If you've been on the roads in New Jersey, you've encountered a pothole or two.  The rough winter has left some the size of craters across the state and they are wreaking havoc on cars and causing motorists a great deal of misery. 

Harsh Winter Creates High Number Of Potholes On New York City's Roads
Spencer Platt, Getty Images

AAA Mid-Atlantic is urging drivers to use caution and report potholes when they see them.

Potholes form when moisture collects in small holes and cracks in the road surface.  This breaks up the pavement, but when it combines with the weight of passing cars, it eventually leads to a pothole.  The heavy spring rains have only added to the problem.

Since January, AAA Mid-Atlantic roadside rescue crews have responded to 119,933 calls for flat tires, an increase of 22 percent since last year.  Since the New Jersey Department of Transportation's fiscal year started in July 2013, road crews have filled more than 230,000 potholes in the Garden State, up by 70,000 compared to an average year.

The annual tab for pothole damage is likely to set motorists across the country back nearly $6.4 billion.  Motorists file about 500,000 auto insurance claims each year for pothole damage, according to the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America.  That number could go even higher this year.

Every time motorists get behind the wheel, potholes pose a threat to traffic safety and an unexpected financial burden.  Hitting a pothole at high speed can result in damaged tires, wheels, shocks or struts.

“Hitting even one especially severe pothole could alter the alignment of a wheel and cause uneven tire wear,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson Tracy Noble in an emailed press release Monday.  “Uneven tire wear means the tire will need to be replaced sooner than necessary, causing a needless expense. A broken shock or strut from a pothole could alter the steering and handling of a vehicle, and create dangers when driving at higher speeds or in tight corners. Broken suspension components should be repaired immediately.”

With so many pothole pitfalls this year, area motorists should heed these safety tips:

  • Keep an eye on traffic patterns. Cars that slow down or move quickly to other lanes may be a sign of major potholes or road damage ahead.
  • Beware of snow, ice or water that may be concealing a deep pothole.
  • Report major potholes or road damage to your state or local transportation department.
  • Avoid swerving. Swerving can cause a loss of vehicle control.
  • Slow down. Carefully avoid sharp impact with potholes.
  • Roll through. Rolling through the pothole is better than braking rapidly.
  • Inflate tires properly. Over inflated and under inflated tires increase risk of tire and wheel damage.

AAA Mid-Atlantic has set up a pothole reporting page at http://midatlantic.aaa.com/PGA/ReportaPothole to report potholes in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington DC and Virginia.

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