Common Road Hazards That Cause Motor Vehicle Accidents

A pothole filled with water

Many vehicle accidents are caused by driver error or negligence (i.e. distracted driving, speeding, drunk driving, fatigued driving, etc.). However, in some cases, car accidents are caused by road hazards. According to Infrastructure USA, more than half of the fatalities in car accidents are caused by deficient roadway conditions.

Unfortunately, Congress’ plan to fix the nation’s highways seems to be continuously focused on short-term solutions. The result is dangerous road conditions that cause accidents resulting in injuries and fatalities.

What Common Road Conditions Lead to Car Accidents?

Some road hazards are uncontrollable such as wet roads during the summer and icy road during the winter. Debris from accidents and storms is difficult to control. However, some road hazards are due to defects that can be controlled by federal and/or state governmental agencies. Common road conditions that are controllable and dangerous that lead to motor vehicle accidents include:

Defective Design

Improper or defective design of roads and highways can cause motor vehicle accidents. If roads are not designed to allow for proper drainage, water can build up on the surface of the road increasing the risk of hydroplaning. Defective road design can result in dangerous dips, slopes, or curves. Without careful planning, intersections can be dangerous if obstacles block the driver's view of oncoming traffic.

Poor road design also leads to more motor vehicle accidents that cause pedestrian deaths. In Florida, pedestrian deaths decreased after the implementation of a new road safety law. The law requires the needs of non-vehicle users to be included in road design.

Failure to Maintain Roads

If roads are not properly maintained, potholes and cracks develop in the surface of the road. When a vehicle hits a pothole, the risk of blowing out a tire or losing control of the vehicle increases. In addition to failing to maintain the surface of the roads, failing to maintain traffic signs, traffic signals, painted markers on the roads, guardrails, and the shoulder of the road can contribute to car accidents.

Roadside Obstacles

The placement of signs, utility poles, and other roadside obstacles can increase the risk of accidents by blocking or obstructing the driver's view. Failing to cut roadside vegetation can also reduce a driver's view causing a motor vehicle accident.

Construction & Work Zones

Precautions must be taken to protect workers in construction and work zones; however, proper warnings and signage must be used to warn drivers of potential dangers. Barriers and machinery blocking or partially blocking traffic can contribute to car accidents. If contractors use poor quality materials or perform substandard work, it can increase the risk of an accident.

Heavy Traffic

The United States is a nation built on automobiles. Parking lots now cover more than a third of some major cities in the nation. There’s no way around it: America has a lot of cars using its roads daily. This means that roads are quickly developing new maintenance issues and experiencing sudden traffic is becoming the norm.

Why Do Roads Deteriorate?

A road has a typical life expectancy of about 20 years. After two decades of use and exposure to the elements, repairs on a road won’t be effective. To fix a problematic road, it needs to be torn apart and resurfaced. The National Highway System has over 164,000 miles of road, each section of which is aging at varying rates. Roads deteriorate for one simple reason: governments aren’t keeping up with our aging infrastructure’s maintenance needs.

Can I Protect Myself from Deteriorating Roads?

Yes, drivers can protect themselves from common road hazards by looking out for common signs that a surface needs repair. While these signs of a dangerous road might seem obvious, noticing just one of them can be enough to prevent a serious accident. Drivers who notice even one of the following conditions should drive with increased caution.

Common signs of an aging and dangerous road include:

  • Faded areas of pavement
  • Faded road paint
  • Rough pavement
  • Potholes
  • Cracks
  • Uneven lanes
  • Tire grooves

Can I Sue a Government Agency for A Car Accident Due to Road Hazards or Conditions?

Yes, in some cases a government agency may be liable for damages in a car accident caused by road hazards or dangerous road conditions. However, these types of lawsuits are complex and difficult to prove. If you believe your car accident was caused by the failure to design, build, and/or maintain safe roads and highways, contact our office to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney. You may be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries and losses.

Because the statute of limitations or the notice requirements for a government agency may be different from other at-fault parties in a car accident, it is vital that you contact our office as soon as possible to protect your right to recover damages for hazardous and dangerous road conditions that caused your motor vehicle accident. Contact the experienced Harrisburg automobile accident attorneys of Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC for a free consultation.

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