'Tis the season for potholes, I'm told, especially considering the winter we are experiencing.
Four brand new tires cost me $662 last month. Three weeks later, my car meets Mr. Pothole and I'm out another $248.
"We see it after the snow, freeze, melt, snow, freeze, melt pattern that breaks down the roads, but they're just proliferating everywhere now and they're not very tiny," said AAA Mid-Atlantic's Jana Tidwell.
I'm not the only driver who's encountered Mr. Pothole and his extended family. Tidwell says AAA Mid-Atlantic responded to a record 222,000 calls for emergency roadside service last month, which includes tire calls. Through yesterday, Tidwell says AAA received 691 calls for flats caused not only by potholes, but also by the drastic temperature swings.
"We still have 10 days left to go in the month and last year we responded to 830 [tire calls] for the entire month. And in 2012, 763, so we will undoubtedly surpass 2012," Tidwell said.
While it hurt dishing out the bucks, I'm reminded things could have been a lot worse.
"What makes potholes so dangerous is that you can do serious damage to your car as well as to other cars. You can certainly cause a crash if you swerve to avoid hitting the pothole," cautioned Tidwell.
'I have to pay how much?'
Paul Campanella runs the family-owned Paul Campanella's Auto & Tire Center in Alapocas. He says snow on the ground and ice kills his business, until after things start to thaw.
"After the snow... then you've got all the reported potholes, and wheel damage and cars being towed in," Campanella said. "The problem with it is that the holes are so big and the tires have such low profiles on them today that they just get damaged so easily."
Typically, Campanella says he repairs tires and rims on one car a week, but now he's working on four or five cars a day. It's good business, but Campanella says, "I'd rather be doing their service, rather than having 'em say, 'I have to pay how much for a tire and a rim?' Expensive."
Delaware Dept. of Transportation Spokesman Jim Westhoff says DelDOT is actively patching potholes this week. If you see a pothole, you can report it to DelDOT and crews, according to the agency's website, will investigate and schedule repairs based on the severity of the pothole and available resources.