Potholes are a familiar nuisance for Chicagoans, and with the recent dramatic shifts in weather, they have begun to again cause problems on streets and highways.
Two co-workers recently learned about the common danger the hard way: they both fell victim to the same pothole along a stretch of Interstate 294.
Li Qiu was heading home home Wednesday when all the lanes shifted on the interstate, and a pothole seemingly came out of nowhere.
"I have a barrier on my left, and I have traffic on my right hand side," he recounted. "Once I see the pothole, I have nowhere to run. I hit it."
Later that day, Qui's co-worker hit the same pothole.
"I showed him the mile marker where I was at, and it was the exact same spot where he was at, so we found it funny at the time," Jose Flores said. "But it’s really frustrating, and it’s costing us a lot of time and money and frustration."
The pothole in question has since been patched by the Illinois Tollway, but countless others across the region remain.
Tire shops say at this time of year, potholes keep them the busiest.
"We’re coming out of winter," said Justin Beckefeld with Discount Tire. "The ground starts to thaw. The concrete’s breaking up. The asphalt. You got your plows that come through, and it just starts pulling everything up."
Beckefeld said even if a tire is new, it's not immune to what a pothole can do.
"Even if you hit it and you feel like you’re still OK, it’s best, we always tell everybody bring it in, let us take a look at it," he said. "Just to make sure you’re safe."
Tire experts say the best things you can do are be proactive and check your tire pressure at least once a month.
"That’s gonna help prolong them, and that’s also gonna help stop damage when a tire is underinflated," Beckefeld said.
Qiu, who struck the pothole on his first trip home from the office in two years, wants to warn other drivers who may have worked from home during the pandemic, too.
"It’s the season, and it’s Chicago, so we should get used to it, but also, be careful," he said.