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Road Conditions: A Leading Cause of Accidents
There are many dangers lurking on our roadways when they are not properly maintained. In fact, poor road conditions are the leading reason for highway fatalities.

There are many dangers lurking on our roadways when they are not properly maintained and unsuspecting drivers may be in jeopardy from these hazards. A study ordered by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) has found that poor road conditions are the leading reason for highway fatalities. Because of the poor condition and lack of maintenance of American roads, our roads contribute to approximately 31.4 percent of all accidents each year in America, according to the study by PIRE. Even if road conditions are not the sole cause of the accident, the conditions can cause crash injuries to be more severe. Poor road conditions greatly elevate the severity of an injury from minor to moderate or even fatal. Some of the dangers that drivers face from poor road conditions may include:

  • Potholes and uneven payment
  • Loose gravel
  • Steep shoulder drop-offs
  • Lack of road maintenance
  • Trees or other obstacles blocking drivers' view or blocking portions of the roadway
  • Broken or defective guardrails
  • Broken or missing signs
  • Inadequate nighttime lighting
  • Poor roadway and intersection planning
  • Bridges and roads that are too narrow to handle traffic
  • Inadequate or missing road reflectors and lines

Because of these dangers, drivers are at risk of being involved in a serious accident. Motorists have a reasonable expectation that roadways will be maintained and kept in good condition by city, state or federal government agencies.

Injuries Due to Roadway Conditions

As with any other vehicle accident, crashes and accidents caused by dangerous roadway conditions can result in minor to severe injury. According to the study by PIRE, "the cost and severity of crashes where roadway conditions are a factor greatly exceeds the cost and severity of crashes where alcohol or speeding was involved, or the cost of non-use of seatbelts." The report also shows that roadway condition is a contributing factor for more than half of the deaths each year and is the "single most lethal contributing factor." Injuries can include broken bones, head trauma, paralysis and death. According to the PIRE study, accidents that are caused by or in part due to roadway conditions cost in excess of $217 billion each year. This includes the medical bills, physical therapy bills, property damage costs, loss of work and quality of life costs associated with these accidents. Businesses are spending $22 million dollars in costs each year because of employees who are involved in automobile accidents caused by roadway conditions. This also affects the costs of goods produced and sold in the United States each year.

Solutions to Condition Dangers

The easiest solution to reduce the risk of injury from roadway conditions would be to improve road maintenance and upgrade roads on a timely schedule. Cities, counties and states should put forth a greater effort to control road conditions and be more proactive to prevent problems before they become serious issues. Bridges pose a significant threat when they are old and in need of repair or are too narrow for traffic. By replacing and repairing these bridges, governments can reduce the risk of accidents. Widening shoulders and improving roadway alignment will also prevent accidents. Using signs that are easier to read or installing permanent pavement markings that are easy to see and read are other proactive ways that government can help prevent accidents due to roadway conditions. More guardrails and barriers will also reduce the risks of head-on collisions from vehicles crossing lanes of traffic. If you are aware of unsafe or poor road conditions, report them immediately to your local authorities. If you have been injured due to an accident caused by these dangerous conditions, it is important to speak to a personal injury attorney to learn more about your legal rights and options.

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