Road hazards are commonly the reason that serious car accidents occur. Some common causes include poor upkeep, unclear signage, or subpar road design. These hazards can result in severe injury to vehicle occupants and pedestrians.
Types of road hazards
Roads are engineered to protect those behind the wheel from the perils of driving, but in some cases, the design of the roadway actually contributes to accidents rather than help prevent them. If constructed inappropriately, any of the following conditions may be responsible for initiating an auto accident:
- Embankment -- When a road curves, the outer edge is set at an incline as a safety precaution. These raised areas serve the purpose of managing traffic so that vehicles can approach the outer edge of the road without driving off it. If the embankment is too steep or not elevated enough, motorists may be in danger.
- Barriers and guard rails -- Barriers, guard rails, speed bumps, medians, and curbs help organize traffic, prevent vehicles from crossing over into oncoming traffic, and act as a guide to keep cars on the road. If any of these structures are poorly designed or placed, driver safety may be compromised.
- On and off ramps -- Sometimes, traffic backups can cause considerable congestion at freeway entry and exit ramps. Efficient design helps reduce chaos, gets cars moving steadily and encourages safer merging and lane changes.
- Road Markings -- Reflective markers and lines steer drivers in the right direction and offer guidance in the dark or weather conditions characterized by low visibility. Dashed and solid lines inform drivers when it is safe to pass on the left-hand side. Besides being highly visible, these markings should be logical enough that people can navigate the roads using common sense and avoid accidents.
- Road surface -- Various alterations in road surface alert drivers of approaching hazards or that they are leaving their lane unexpectedly.
- Shoulder -- Leaving enough shoulder space alongside the road keeps drivers safe by giving them a little room to work with between the edge and a barrier or ditch. Wide shoulders also give drivers the opportunity to pull off the road out of harm's way in the event of mechanical failure or some other emergency.
- Signage -- Signs give drivers prior notice of approaching intersections, sharp turns, animal crossings, etc. They should be positioned in obvious locations and brightly illuminated for maximum visibility.
- Automated traffic control -- Traffic lights, stop and yield signs, lights to warn drivers of intersections and crosswalks, and other devices are utilized to dictate traffic flow. Proper placement of these devices allows vehicles and pedestrians to safely coexist.
If you believe you were the victim of an auto accident resulting from improper road design, you must gather the evidence that supports your claim as soon as possible. If roadwork begins in the area of the accident, all proof of design negligence could be altered or completely lost. Contact an attorney specializing in auto accident lawsuits to assist you with your case.