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hazards

When Car Accidents Are Caused by Road Hazards

Motor vehicle accidents are often caused by a driver’s poor decisions, behaviors or actions. At other times, car wrecks are caused by defective parts or other issues outside of drivers’ control. Sometimes, the very roads constructed to keep drivers safe can cause accidents.

Disintegration of roads and bridges, broken pieces of cement or road materials, traffic cones, signage and issues of road construction can cause dangerous road conditions leading to accidents.

How Roads Deteriorate

State and local roads require funding for construction, maintenance and repair. Gaining funding for these projects takes a very long time, as does completion of the projects once funding is approved. Government funding keeps bridges in good shape, roads free of potholes and disintegration of roadways from occurring. Even slightly damaged roads can cause major accidents involving multiple vehicles, leading to injuries and even causing death. When funding for road safety is not available, the roads we use every day can become more dangerous than the drivers using them.

Today’s road construction quality helps roads to last about 20 years before a major reconstruction effort must be undertaken. Regular maintenance is extremely important throughout these two decades of a road’s lifetime, with routine maintenance not being effective after the road’s lifetime has passed. This is because at the end of the 20 years, underlying issues are too great to be fixed by resurfacing or filling of cracks and potholes. Neglect of aging roads is a problem when funds are not available for reconstruction.

Dangers Associated with Infrastructure

Bridges have gained a lot of press exposure in recent years, as American bridges and infrastructure as a whole are aging. Aging bridges pose great danger, even when they appear to the naked eye to be sound. Bridges become less structurally sound over time and eventually start to fall apart. They must be repaired or even reconstructed to ensure the public and all vehicles crossing over or under them are safe.

Driver behaviors and hazards from vehicles always pose danger to other cars on roads today. But when freeways or other highways are allowed to fall into disrepair, hazards are greater and can result in even more catastrophic accidents. Potholes, narrowing shoulders, crumbling sides of the road, uneven lanes and cracking surfaces can cause vehicles to lose control, leading to a serious accident causing injuries or death.

Road Construction Dangers

Road construction is a terribly hazardous situation for both drivers and workers completing construction on the road. Many collisions occur in road construction areas, as drivers try to swerve away from workers in the road, maneuver changing circumstances of the road, handle their vehicle in more constrictive space or otherwise drive where construction is underway. All of the distractions of road construction being completed on an open road often cause drivers to make drastic mistakes, too.

 

Paving materials used for repair or construction of a road can cause problems for drivers trying to see where they are going. Temporary signage may be placed improperly or incorrect in information provided to drivers. Lane closures slow and confuse drivers and often cause accidents. Speed limit decreases for construction safety are often disregarded or cause aggressive drivers to become more dangerous. Construction vehicles cause traffic congestion, block roadways and may throw debris onto cars behind them, causing cracked windshields and even accidents.

When road construction is being completed, it is critical that all drivers navigating the hazardous area are alert and obey all warning signs. Of course, the nature of these areas and changes to once-familiar roads creates the perfect circumstances for accidents.

Indicators of Road Hazards

When roads are in disrepair, it is important to be aware of these hazards and how they can cause accidents. By simply paying attention to the surfaces driven upon and environments around roads, drivers can avoid many accidents.

Some common indicators of road disrepair include potholes, faded striping, faded areas of pavement, cracks across the road, uneven surfaces, or loose gravel. Drivers should be particularly alert when their vehicle jostles about when changing lanes or driving on particular stretches of the road. Guard rails can become hazards when a vehicle has hit them and peeled them out of place, protruding into a lane or no longer providing protection at the side of the road. Damaged signs, covered signs or missing signage can be indicators of general disrepair of roads and the need to be particularly cautious for other road hazards.

When Road Conditions Cause Accidents

Government and private businesses often hold liability when road conditions cause auto accidents. This is because they are responsible for designing, building, maintaining and reconstructing safe roads. When accidents are caused due to poor road conditions, the government and business representatives may be held liable for compensation.

Federal, state and local governments often specify obligations and responsibilities of those tasked with maintaining safe roadways.

When you or someone you love have been injured in an accident or suffered property damage caused by issues with a road, bridge or other infrastructure, government or private businesses may be responsible. An experienced auto accident attorney can help determine where responsibility may exist and whether negligence was the cause of the auto accident. It is possible to gain compensation for injuries and damages resulting from car accidents caused by dangerous road conditions.

deadly crashes

Despite Innovations, Deadly Crashes Continue to Rise

When you and your loved ones get into your vehicle, you can relax in knowing that safety feature improvements have made a huge difference in saving lives on American roadways in the past 20 years.

Innovations Designed to Prevent Deadly Crashes

Most people think of seat belts as the most remarkable safety innovation in automobiles for prevention of deadly crashes. But following safety belts came airbags, durable occupant safety cages, roll bars and crumple zones. These each provided great strength to vehicles and enhanced survivability for passengers during accidents. Automakers of today are looking at new ways to make driving even safer. So the next years should be exciting, when watching what carmakers come up with for greater survivability in new auto models.
Five of the most noteworthy car safety systems of recent years include:

  • Ford Blind Spot Info System with Cross-Traffic Alert
    This Ford-designed system employs two radar beam modules for blind spot awareness and other vehicle detection. These radars help drivers avoid deadly crashes often caused when changing lanes or encroaching upon unseen vehicles in the blind spots of the car being driven. Drivers are alerted of risk through an indicator light so they can correct their actions to prevent accident.
  • Volvo City Safety
    Volvo’s system innovation prevents deadly crashes using automatic braking. Although this is a low-speed device that stops the vehicle when it is only traveling at city speeds of two to 19 miles per hour, such as in parking lots or urban roadways, this braking system can prevent pedestrian, bicyclist and other fatalities.
  • Collision Mitigation by Honda
    Honda’s grille housed sensor monitors distance of traffic ahead and the driven vehicle’s own speed. By doing this, it is able to alert risk of crash with vehicles in the distance. The system flashes a warning light, tugs at the driver’s seat belt and even starts braking on its own to reduce the risk of deadly crashes.
  • Lane Assist by Audi
    An audible signal alerts drivers of new Audis to make them aware that they are swerving out of their own lane. This system does not stop the car or otherwise intervene. But it does cause the steering wheel to vibrate to ensure the driver is immediately aware of vehicle path changes, while corrections can still be made to prevent deadly crashes. This innovation is extremely useful for drowsy drivers who can be awakened by the steering wheel vibrations.
  • Mercedes Night View Assist PLUS
    Mercedes-Benz technology alerts drivers that animals or pedestrians are in or too near the roadway ahead, using forward facing infrared cameras. While the driver is alerted through high resolution displays on the instrument panel, the people or animals are also alerted through automated light flashing from the vehicle’s headlights.

Each of these innovations increase safety to prevent deadly auto accidents. But driver error, negative behaviors and distracted driving are still problems despite technological improvements.

Despite Automotive Innovations, Deadly Crashes Are Rising

2015 brought continuing increases in the number of motor vehicle deaths, despite changes to automotive technology. The National Safety Council had already noted a 14 percent increase in deadly crashes for the first six months of that year. That was over 18,000 fatalities with 30 percent more non-fatal injuries also occurring than in 2014.

A well-known Phoenix car accident attorney, voiced his concern over this trend. He said, “It is devastating to see that drivers continue to increasingly contribute to deadly crashes, despite so many safety innovations by automakers and awareness campaigns urging drivers to be more aware and safer when behind the wheel.”

The National Safety Council attributes the increase in fatalities to higher numbers of people on the road. Those increases in auto travel can be credited to lower gas prices and economic improvements, two factors enabling people to drive for leisure more often and for longer distances.

The attorney also said, “The auto industry has been struggling to overcome recalls and negative reports regarding vehicle safety. Safety features continue to advance in many ways, but deadly crashes are still a major problem in our society.”

Government officials are working to influence automakers to make many luxury safety innovations, such as automatic braking and features seen on brands such as Volvo, Audi and Mercedes, standard for less expensive brands and models. Safety should not be limited to those who can afford luxury.

Safety Innovations are No Match for Human Negligence

Despite safety innovations, one of the biggest problems causing deadly crashes is human error. Such error is often in the form of negative driving behaviors, also known as negligence. Surveys indicate 75 percent of drivers still use their cell phone while driving, despite knowing this activity behind the wheel is very deadly. 60 percent of drivers admit texting while driving.