Al Batt: Potholes prey upon drivers aged 35-44 who have good teeth and poor eyesight

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

I wasn’t in the best of moods.

Al Batt

I’d had an unpleasant experience. The store’s cashier was slow and rude. I tried to overlook his imperfections. We all have bad days, but he tried to cover his ineptness by becoming downright nasty.

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I’ll never use self-checkout again.

Self-checkout can be a bad amusement park ride. So can traveling the highways and byways of this lovely country.

It feels as though my stomach drops when I drive over a dip or a hill on a road. It’s as if my body went up, but my stomach stayed in place. It’s the feeling gotten on a

rollercoaster without the rollercoaster. I call it a “Thank you, Ma’am,” because my head nods. Some call it belly tickles. Years ago, an elderly friend lost his driver’s license because he drove on the wrong side of the road to avoid a pothole. He wasn’t tickled. He felt it was unfair as he paid taxes on both sides.

Nature’s speed bumps ugly up a road. The crews do a great job trying to keep the potholes or chuckholes at bay. It’s a challenge with so many roads, too much traffic and pothole-inducing bad weather. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but the day after it was built, its roads had potholes.

Potholes aren’t San Andreas’s Fault. They were brought here by the pilgrims. With the first blush of spring, majestic potholes bloom like flowers and multiply like bunnies.

I walked around a medium-sized pothole in Alaska four times and I’d made a mile. The pothole repair truck fell into it. I dropped bologna sandwiches to the guys in the truck so they wouldn’t starve.

I had a neighbor I called Pothole because every time I turned around, he was in the way. He couldn’t find his house if he were standing in his driveway, but he never missed finding a pothole with his car.

The natural habitat of potholes is a parking lot. I drove a slalom course in one parking lot, in a futile attempt at missing the biggest potholes.

QuoteWizard analyzed search data for pothole-related complaints and repairs for each state. Here are the findings

If your GPS tells you that you’re nearing the Grand Canyon, you’re in Minnesota. Minnesota was the state with the most pothole problems. Iowa ranked 26th. New Hampshire, West Virginia and Wyoming ranked 48th. Los Angeles was the city with the most vicious potholes. Minneapolis ranked second and Duluth ranked seventh for the worst potholes nationwide. Drivers between 35 and 44 hit the most potholes.

AAA says nearly 2 in 10 drivers had vehicles repaired in 2022 after hitting a pothole. An estimated 44 million drivers experienced vehicle damage due to potholes in 2022 and the average cost to repair that damage was $406.

AAA recommends checking tires for tread depth by inserting a quarter into the tread groove with Washington’s head upside down. If you can see the top of Washington’s head, start shopping for new tires. I found a smaller quarter and that saved me a pile of money. Inflation is a good thing. Make sure your tires are properly inflated and have any excessive vibration or uneven wearing of tires tended to by a trusted repair facility.

AAA advises scanning the road ahead for potholes and, when safe to do so, drive around them. Standing water may disguise a deep pothole. In my youth, we had a pothole we called the old swimmin’ hole. If we can’t avoid a pothole, we should reduce our speed and avoid braking abruptly. Striking a pothole at higher speeds increases the chance of knocking the wheels out of alignment or damaging suspension components.

Straighten the wheel and think pleasant thoughts before hitting a pothole. You could blow a tire, damage wheel rims, batter an exhaust system, bruise an ego, require an emergency dental appointment, suffer whiplash and/or ruin your day. Street and highway departments have varying policies for pothole damage reimbursement.

You might have limited road hazard damage coverage on tires and you might not. Auto insurance covers pothole damage if you have collision coverage, which is subject to a deductible larger than the national debt.

Let’s call the pothole thing off.

Al Batt’s columns appear in the Tribune every Wednesday.