LOS ANGELES — Many Angelenos loved being drenched with rain last month during an unusual string of storms. But drivers have been experiencing the aftermath: potholes.
The City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works received 1,653 reports of potholes between the first rain of the season on Dec. 27 and Friday. A year earlier, the agency had received 610 street pothole requests during the same timeframe.
Heavy rains coupled with cold nighttime temperatures helped increase asphalt pockmarks, as water seeped into the asphalt and cracked it.
American drivers pay $250 to $1,000 to repair pothole-related vehicle damage, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California, which responds to more than 660,000 calls for flat tire assistance annually. Many of those calls are because of pothole damage. In December, the Auto Club received 6% more calls for tire service, largely because of potholes.
The Department of Public Works says it inspects a pothole within one business day of being reported through the city’s 3-1-1 service and usually makes repairs within three business days.
But if you happen upon one, the Auto Club has some tips. Drivers should maintain their tires’ air pressure so there’s as much cushion as possible between the wheel rim and pothole. They should also increase their following distance to increase the likelihood of seeing a pothole before it’s too late.
If driving through a pothole is unavoidable, slow down and firmly hold the steering wheel to maintain vehicle control but do not brake, as it could shift the vehicle’s weight to the front and increase the damage from impact.
“Hitting even one severe pothole could pop a tire or alter the alignment of a wheel from suspension damage resulting in uneven tire wear,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center. “A broken shock or strut from hitting a pothole could alter the steering and handling of a vehicle and create dangers when driving at higher speeds or in tight corners.”