Drivers beware: Pothole season has arrived early in Montreal

Pothole season has arrived early in Montreal

A mini-van hits a deep pothole at the intersection of Source and Hymus boulevards on Feb. 8. Peter McCabe / MONTREAL GAZETTE

Drivers beware, dreaded pothole season has arrived early.

With roads in Montreal beginning to take the form of the moon surface, car tires are getting swallowed in street craters.

Motorists recently travelling along service roads in the West Island, between Sources and St-Jean boulevards, likely passed over dozens of potholes lurking beneath puddles of slush.

Annie Gauthier of CAA-Quebec said this winter’s freeze-and-thaw weather patterns, combined with lots of snow and ice, are a perfect storm for potholes.

“It’s not a surprise because of the temperature,” Gauthier said. “We will see another episode of potholes in March and April, of course.”

CAA-Quebec offers some advice on how to minimize car damage should you drive over a pothole or a nids-de-poule, as it is called in French.

The first tip is not to slam on the brakes if you can’t avoid a pothole.

“A lot of people have the reflex to brake drastically and it’s the worst thing to do. A tire that suddenly stops bring more risk to damage something,” Gauthier said.

“If you see a pothole and have to pass over it, just leave your gas pedal alone and hold the wheel really (firm)   to keep control.

“Don’t swerve drastically, to the right or left, to avoid the pothole because you can cause an accident or damage your car.

“So, no acceleration and no brakes. That’s the best thing to reduce damage to your car.”

CAA-Quebec also offer drivers information on how to file a claim if their vehicle has sustained pothole damage.

“Provincial and municipal governments cannot be held liable for material damage to automobile tires or suspension systems due to road conditions,” according to the CAA-Quebec website.

“Despite that legal restriction, it is still possible to sue the Quebec Ministry of Transport, a municipality or a city for carelessness or negligence or misconduct by the authority in question. The burden of proof, however, rests with the motorist (that means you).

To prove negligence “you must prove….that the pothole had already been reported to the authorities before the incident; and that the latter had failed to do anything about it.”

Gauthier said you will need evidence to prove an allegation, including photos and testimonies from witnesses (other motorists), pothole measurements, etc.

The best way to avoid potholes is to keep your eye on the road, she added.

“With the winter we’re having, it’s not finished yet, we’ll have to be really careful when we drive and to anticipate problems.

“So look far ahead when we drive to see the potholes.”

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