What Is a Pothole?

Potholes are holes in the pavement that are formed by specific weather conditions along with the constant wear and tear that all roads and parking lots experience. Originally a term used to describe a “geological feature in glaciers and gravel pits,” the term pothole derives from the Middle English word pot, which meant, “a deep hole for a mine, or from peat-digging.” But why are today’s potholes so prevalent? Understanding how a pothole forms will answer this question.

As you can see in the drawings below, rain or snow seep into the pavement through small cracks. In winter, this water freezes and expands, creating a cavity between the pavement and the soil. When the water eventually melts, the pavement becomes compromised due to the now hollow cavity. When vehicles drive over this compromised section of pavement, the pavement cracks and crumbles and a pothole is formed.

What You Need to Know About Potholes: An illustration of a rain cloud over a road with the text: Rain seeps through cracks in the pavement.


What You Need to Know About Potholes: An illustration of water freezing under the pavement with the text: The water freezes and expands the pavement.


What You Need to Know About Potholes: An illustration of the cavity left over from the melted ice with the text: When the ice melts the pavement is weakened.


What You Need to Know About Potholes: An illustration of a car driving over the weakened pavement and forming a pothole with the text: The weakened pavement then collapses under the weight of vehicles.

The Danger of Potholes

Yes. Just like damaged inlets, potholes can be a real liability to your property. Potholes can easily cause flat tires and flat tires can lead to accidents. If either one happens on your property, you could be held liable. That’s right, if someone gets a flat tire from a pothole on your property, and it can be proven that you, the owner, were aware of the pothole, you can be sued for the cost of damages. If the driver was injured during the incident, you can end up paying even more. The risk of injury goes up when we consider cyclists and motorcyclists, as potholes are an even greater risk to two-wheel vehicles.

Pothole Prevention and Repair

Being proactive and preventing potholes from forming not only helps protect motorists but it will save you money in the long run. There are many ways to prevent potholes such as crack sealing, fog sealing, chip sealing, and microsurfacing. The size of your property, the climate, traffic volume, and the existing damage will determine what method you use. What matters is that you fill in pavement cracks before it’s too late. By being proactive and filling in pavement cracks, you can avoid the nuisance of potholes.

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