17 January 2019

The thaw is on—watch out for wet roads and potholes!

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Between the melting snow and the pouring rain, spring is a time for being extra vigilant on the roads. Be especially careful around wet pavement and potholes—they can really give you a headache! To help keep you and others safe and avoid damage to your vehicle, here are a few prevention tips plus information on car insurance coverage you may find useful.

WET ROADS AND HYDROPLANING

The biggest danger when the road is wet is hydroplaning. This is especially true when the ground is still frozen, which can cause water to collect on the road. You do not want your car to turn into a boat!
Hydroplaning happens when one or more wheels lose their grip from the road. Tires usually push the water out of the way, keeping the car in contact with the road surface. But as the water level rises, the risk of hydroplaning increases. So prevention is essential.

Slow down

If it’s raining, the road is wet, and you think you see puddles, there’s one simple rule to remember: slow down. Speed is the key factor in hydroplaning. Just as you would automatically adapt your driving to snowy road conditions, you have to get used to making changes when it’s wet.
Keep your tires and shocks tuned up
Worn tires and shocks increase the risk of hydroplaning, because they don’t clear the water out of the way as well. Make sure your tires are properly inflated too. Some tires on the market are designed to provide maximum grip in the rain. Good tires and a well-maintained suspension make your vehicle safer!

Cancel the cruise control

When the road is wet, don’t use cruise control. It will just make things worse if you start to hydroplane, speeding up the wheels instead of slowing them down! Obviously that puts you at risk of losing control of your vehicle. If, despite these precautions, your car starts to slide, slow down, stay the course, and hold the steering wheel firmly.

Avoid puddles

No one likes driving through puddles—especially not the pedestrians you splash! Not only do they make a mess but they may also conceal nasty potholes that could damage your vehicle. If you can avoid a puddle, by all means do, but if there’s no way around it, slow down as much as possible.

POTHOLES

Ugh, potholes! When spring comes they’re never far behind, much to the dismay of drivers! Some roads are worse than others. Make sure you know how to prevent damage, stay safe, and get the right insurance coverage.

Here’s what the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) recommends:

  • Slow down when approaching a pothole and resist the impulse to slam on the brakes—it could damage your vehicle. Just go slowly, then ease up on the brakes to let the car absorb the impact.
  • Hold the steering wheel firmly to maintain control of your car.
  • Check your tire pressure regularly. An underinflated tire is more likely to rupture if you drive over a pothole. An overinflated tire may not absorb the entire shock.

CAA-Québec’s Worst Roads list

CAA-Québec has published a list of the worst roads in Québec every spring since 2015. Over the course of a month Quebecers are invited to vote for the most damaged roads in their region and the province. Nearly 12,000 reports were submitted in 2018. So you can check the ranking and adjust your route if needed!

How about insurance?

What happens if you hit a pothole and damage your car? Unfortunately, you will usually be considered the one responsible for insurance purposes.

However, if you have collision insurance, you’re covered. The only downside is that in 99% of cases you’ll have to pay a deductible when making a claim. So it’s important to weigh the pros and cons: pay the deductible or pay for repairs?
If you have Endorsement 43A – Change to loss indemnity, you can have the damaged parts replaced for free, provided they need replacing. A definite plus if your wheels are your prized possession!

Talk to a Promutuel Insurance agent for more information on the coverage available for this type of incident.
Most of all, stay alert and drive carefully to avoid the trouble that wet roads and potholes can cause. Happy spring!