The pothole survival guide
ALREADY-taxed road networks on the North Coast have taken a hammering with a myriad of potholes, landslips and other infrastructure nightmares sending drivers around the twist.
Council staff are also feeling the pressure, with an endless backlog of patch-up jobs awaiting urgent attention.
Lismore has estimated at least $2.4 million in damages so far from the rain, while Byron has estimated a whopping $5 million in total infra- structure damage, the majority on its roads.
Richmond Valley Council can count itself comparatively lucky with a damage bill approaching $1 million.
As potholes crop up across the region, a danger period is setting in where drivers over-familiar with their regular routes will hit, or swerve dangerously away from, unexpected gaping holes.
Other drivers are facing sections of road dotted with so many potholes - including a stretch of Wyrallah Rd - that they're literally unavoidable.
Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell has copped a barrage of complaints from residents on Facebook in the last few days.
"I absolutely understand people's frustration but the truth of the matter is we cannot fix all of the roads at once and need to prioritise in this kind of situation," Cr Dowell said on Monday.
Lismore City Council infrastructure director Garry Hemsworth said while the
older road network was a contributing factor, the weakness of the clay soils made potholes more common after heavy rain.
The council was recently advised to focus its resources on restoring more kilometres of sealed road surface instead of new assets.
One group benefiting from the potholes is the guerrilla pothole "artists" who are busy at work with spray cans and safety vests.
View Potholes on the Northern Rivers in a larger map
Have you seen a particularly big pothole as you travel about the region? We're putting together a rough map of some of the Northern Rivers' pothole danger spots and we'd like your help. You can email your locations, post them on our Facebook page, or, if you have a Google account, edit the map yourself by clicking the link underneath it.
POTHOLE SURVIVAL GUIDE
LISMORE driving instructor Steve Combs reminded drivers to be aware of the wet weather and the fact that it will cause slippery and pothole-prone conditions. Don't assume a section of road you know well will be without potholes - they're popping up all over the place. To swerve or not to swerve?
- Mr Combs said it was better to avoid swerving by slowing down in the first place.
If there's no one coming the other way, it's safe to turn to avoid the pothole, but best to straddle it or turn closer to the road edge rather than swerving into the oncoming lane. "If you swerve real fast, real quick, there's also a danger you might lose control of the car," Mr Combs said. More distance:
- Staying close to cars is a no-no in pothole-prone conditions, as you will never see why they are swerving around a pothole until it is too late.
"The risk also is you might get rocks thrown from potholes from the car in front into your windscreen or your headlights," Mr Combs said. And slowing down doesn't cost you as much time as you might think - to drive the 36km from Ballina to Lismore at an average of 80kmh takes 45 minutes, whereas at 75kmh it takes 48 minutes - just three minutes less. Car Maintenance:
- East Lismore Automotive owner Michael Williams said he saw plenty of pothole-related suspension and steering problems in his customers' cars.
Mr Williams said drivers should be getting a wheel alignment every six months and keep their tyres at least at 235 kPa (34 psi). "Our roads are bad enough on tyres alone because we have a lot of roundabouts and windy roads - and a car out of alignment chews out the edges of its tyres even faster than normal.
- Pump your tyres to at least 34 psi.
Contrary to popular belief under-inflation does not prevent car damage from potholes, only causing tyres to wear out very quickly. Potholes are going to damage your car regardless, and more pressure for bigger wheels such as 18-inch recommends 40 psi.