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Pay now or Really pay later

By August 24, 2009July 8th, 2014No Comments

Debunking 3 of the most common excuses to not address a pothole problem


We’ve all seen them, we all hate them, and we all know the damage they can do. Still, potholes all too often are left unattended, leaving commuters vulnerable to serious damages, and in turn, serious repair costs. Below are three of the most common excuses to not address pothole problems. All of the scenarios below are hypothetical, but are entirely plausible. Whether it involves repairing the pothole yourself or making a simple phone call to report the problem, the effort it takes to see that a pothole is addressed is almost always more efficient than the alternative.

Excuse 1: It’s not on my property, it’s not my problem!

Julie is a business consultant, and as such she spends time driving all over the metropolitan area of Detroit. One day she was driving home from a new client’s office and taking a route she’d never taken before. As she was accelerating on to a highway, she struck a large pothole on the ramp. As her GPS dislodged from the windshield and her briefcase spilled all over the floor, she swerved nearly avoiding an accident. She cursed, but didn’t think twice about it because she is a busy woman, and, well, it wasn’t her problem.

Unfortunately for Julie, it was about to become her problem. The next day she was driving home from the same client’s office. Merging onto the same highway deeply engaged in a cellphone conversation, she ran into the same pothole again. This time, her briefcase toppling over was the least of her problems. Her car began to thud with every turn of her tires and sparks flew up into the foreground of her rear view mirrors. She immediately pulled over and called a tow truck to bring her car to the dealership.

By about the same time the next day, this time in her rental car, she received a call from the car dealer explaining a damaged tire, rim, and bumper would need to be replaced, costing several hundreds of dollars. Outraged about the damage, Julie called the city, placing the blame on them for not properly maintaining the roads. Julie argued that it was the second time she hit the pothole and that the damage was probably cumulative, so there was no way she should be liable. The representative of the city asked her then, “Why didn’t you report the pothole the first time?” Much to Julie’s dismay, the city told her they can only reimburse pothole victims of already reported potholes.

* * * * *

While some cities will assume responsibility for pothole damage and reimburse the victim, there are almost always stipulations for such a situation. First and foremost, a city willing to reimburse expenses of pothole damage almost always need to be aware of the pothole prior to the damage occurring. In other words, if a pothole goes unreported, the city responsible for maintaining the road is never made aware it even exists, thus will not assume responsibility. In addition, there is often a certain time requirement for the pothole to go unattended before it becomes a liability to the city, usually a couple of weeks. This means that a reported pothole must be repaired within that time, or it becomes a liability of the city. If damages are incurred outside of this time window, then the city would become responsible.

Even if the city fails to repair the pothole in a timely manner, simply having it be reported is often enough to make drivers not directly responsible for pothole damage, or the repair fees.

Just because a pothole isn’t on your property doesn’t mean it’s not your problem. While you might not be directly responsible for doing the repair yourself, reporting potholes means that you, and the drivers around you, will be protected in the future. Even if the city fails to repair the pothole in a timely manner, simply having it be reported is often enough to make drivers not directly responsible for pothole damage, or the repair fees. Overall, a simple phone call reporting a pothole could save you or one of your fellow drivers from paying later.

Excuse 2: Hey, I know how to avoid it!

Frank owns a family grocery store. The store is as much of a historical landmark as it is the premier grocer of the small town; this being said, the old building and lot had quite a bit of wear. There are two entrances to the lot, one in the front and one in the back. Since most people who visit Frank’s grocery store use the front entrance, it is well maintained; the back entrance, however, is used mostly by employees and has several, large potholes. Frank hasn’t repaired the back entrance in years, because, “Anyone who would use it would know how to avoid the potholes.”

While Frank didn’t have many problems for several years with the situation, it only took one oblivious customer to spark a slew of problems for him and his grocery store. One day, a visitor to the small town decided to make a stop at Frank’s grocery store. Not familiar with the area, he accidentally drove by the main entrance. Being a quick thinker, the visitor turned onto the first side street he saw and followed it to the back of the store. Instead of turning around and entering where everyone else in the town would, he decided to enter through the back. Too busy being proud of his navigational achievement, he did not notice the unmarked potholes. As he entered the lot, he was greeted with a loud thud, and a flat tire. Further inspection found that he had also bent the rim, and so the entire wheel needed replacement.

Furious that his vacation had been put on hold, the visitor found the owner of the store, Frank, and sought reparations. Frank was sincerely apologetic, but with current economic conditions, he didn’t have the money to pay for the repairs out of his pocket. He explained to the visitor that no one in town uses the rear entrance and that he was really sorry, but there was nothing he could do. Still steaming over the situation, the visitor put on his spare tire and drove off.

Unfortunately for Frank, a few days later he received a letter from the visitor’s lawyer threatening a civil suit over the incident.

* * * * *

While Frank was sincere and sympathetic to the issue, the fact remained that he was openly aware of the potholes, but made a conscious decision to neither mark nor repair them. It was clear to everyone in the town that the potholes existed, though it never ceased to be a liability to Frank. Not realizing this, his “hope for the best” attitude about it landed him in a bit of legal trouble. Had the potholes been marked then repaired, this wouldn’t have turned into a legal issue. Not having much of a case, Frank would have no choice but to settle with the visitor. Instead of fixing the problem, which would only take a couple of bags of cold mix asphalt and an hour or two of his time, he ended up footing the bill for someone’s broken wheel, not to mention having to do the repair afterward, anyway. Ultimately, the “good faith” approach Frank took turned out to be more expensive to him in the long run because of the negligent maintenance of his store’s property.

Excuse 3: It’s way too expensive and will take way too long!

Celia is an elderly woman who lives by herself on a large lot in a rural area. While she remains active and keeps her house in order, since her husband’s passing, there have arose some maintenance issues, including a few potholes on the narrow, quarter mile drive to her house. Her son, Steven, makes a point to visit her at least once a week, and he makes sure to keep up the areas of the large lot he knows his mother can’t do on her own. When he noticed the potholes forming, he made sure to mention it to his mother, and while she thought it needed to be fixed eventually, money is an issue for her, and she was convinced she couldn’t afford the repair, even with her son doing the labor for free. Week in and week out, when Steven came to visit he would mention the potholes, and week in and week out, Celia would tell him the same thing, “It will be too expensive!”

Since neither of them actually knew the cost of repairing a pothole, that conclusion stood every time it came up, until one day Steven ran into one of the potholes, which at this point had grown much larger. Finally, he told his mother that he would pay for the repair before one of them did some serious damage. Much to Steven’s surprise, after a little research, he found the materials that best suited his job, a cold mix asphalt, were more than reasonably priced. So Stephen went to his local hardware store and picked up a few bags of EZ STREET cold mix asphalt.

Now that he had the materials, he just needed to find the time to work it into his exhausting 60 hour work week. Since he was so busy, and had only a couple of vacation days left, he kept putting it off. Like most uneducated handymen, reading the directions seemed to be the “easy way out”, and in reality, Stephen had no idea how long it would really take.

Finally Steven took a sick day on a Friday, of which he planned on dedicating in full to repairing his mother’s drive. He showed up at her house with all of the bags of EZ STREET cold mix and the tools the store clerk told him he would need. Realizing he wasn’t really sure what, exactly, he was supposed to do at this point, he read the package for instructions. This turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Steven went to work and ended up patching all of the several potholes before Celia had lunch on the table. Even more of a delight to Steven, the EZ STREET cold mix resulted in a permanent fix that was ready for traffic instantly. In the end, Steven made his mother happy, and surprised himself at how handy he really could be.

* * * * *

While the case of Celia and Steven didn’t need to result in a disaster for them to address their pothole repairs, their ignorance to the repairing process prevented them from realizing how quick, easy, and inexpensive it really was. Fortunately for them, they were able to avoid a crisis by realizing that it needed to be fixed, no matter what it was going to take. Even more fortunate for them was the fact that it wouldn’t take much in money, time, or effort.

The beauty of EZ STREET cold mix asphalt is its ability to permanently and instantly fix a pothole without much money, time, or effort. A 35 pound bag of EZ STREET cold mix asphalt is only about $20.00 (USD) at a local hardware store, requires less than an hour to lay, and can be done by nearly anyone with tools that are probably already in the garage. If money or time are a concern with putting off a pothole repair, behold the ease and effectiveness of EZ STREET cold mix asphalt.

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