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Pothole damage costs drivers $3 billion a year

A study identifies the states where the pothole threat is greatest

Potholes in road
Photo (c) Peter Dazeley - Getty Images
It’s February, a time when snow and freezing rain in many parts of the nation produce an outbreak of potholes.

QuoteWizard, an online insurance marketplace, has compiled a list of what it says are the worst states for potholes, many of which lead to insurance claims. According to the report, the five worst states for potholes are:

  1. Washington

  2. Indiana

  3. Michigan

  4. Nebraska

  5. Ohio

Michael, of Indianapolis, agrees that Indiana belongs on the list.

“I hit a pothole and the rim got a little bent,” Michael wrote in a review of Zurich Insurance. “That was the third incident I've had to go in and get a tire fixed because of potholes here in Indianapolis where the streets are terrible.”

Catie, a ConsumerAffairs reviewer from Orange Beach, Ala., makes a case for her state to make the list while expressing satisfaction with the way her Cooper tires handle these bumps in the road.

“The roads in a city not too far from where I live that I travel daily, are very rough with potholes!” Catie wrote in a review. “I try to avoid these holes but when I hit one, I cringe! But for as many holes as I hit, Cooper hits back!!”

Costly road hazard

According to QuoteWizard, tire and wheel damage from potholes costs consumers $3 billion a year. To compile the report, researchers looked at Google search statistics going back to 2004. They found that Washington has more searches for pothole-related complaints than any other state. Based on that metric, Arkansas, Nevada, and Wyoming have the least potholes.

Potholes mainly form during winter and early in the spring when temperatures vary widely. First, snow and ice melt and seep into the pavement. Then, when the temperature drops again, the water refreezes and expands, cracking the road and opening up a pothole.

Even a seemingly small pothole can produce a surprisingly large amount of damage. 

QuoteWizard says potholes cause damage in several different ways, including popping tires, damaging wheel rims, and throwing off alignment. They can even cause more significant damage, such as ruining the engine or exhaust system and damaging shocks and struts.

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