When natural hazards, such as the weather, or man-made dangers, such as a stray construction cone, pose a danger to motorists, it’s important for drivers to still show responsibility on the road. A car crash can easily result from either of the above, and other motorists or pedestrians can sustain serious injuries either way. The recent controversy surrounding a Virginia public official underscores the presence of potholes on the state’s roads.

The former Hampton Roads district administrator for the state department of transportation, VDOT, resigned on February 15, despite nearly ten years of service in the position. The decision came after criticism regarding the handling of dangerous road conditions. In particular, a strong rainstorm on Interstate 264 earlier this month led to the formation of numerous potholes along the busy route. Conditions became so unsafe that Virginia State Police had to close down portions of the roadway.

Potholes can pose countless threats to motorists, from a simple flat tire to a multi-vehicle accident caused by swerving. Unlike other highway hazards, such as deer that congregate near wooded areas or ice that forms near bridges, it can be tough to predict where a pothole will occur. According to the mayor of Hampton, Molly Joseph Ward, properly maintaining roads is difficult without adequate funding.

Virginia drivers, of course, can’t wait for local and state government to address every single pothole. State residents must travel state roads no matter what, but it’s important to remember that potholes don’t necessarily make drivers immune from personal responsibility. If a driver hits another car due to a pothole in the road, the victim can still have a valid personal injury claim if they are hurt. The pothole itself will be a factor in the incident, of course, but other elements such as speed, obedience to the law and construction signs, or distracted driving should also be investigated.

Source: The Daily Press, “VDOT district head resigns after pothole controversy,” Austin Bogues, Feb. 14, 2013