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How Bad Road Design Contributes to Car Accidents


What WLF Car Accident Attorneys Know

Thousands of auto accidents occur on our roads and highways annually, resulting in more than 30,000 deaths and 100,000 injuries. While the focus is usually on driver negligence and other causes, bad road design accounts for a small but still significant percentage of these accidents, according to experienced car accident attorneys.

Although there are federal and state laws that strictly regulate the construction of roads, errors cannot be avoided 100% of the time in such huge projects. Here are some examples of bad road design and conditions that contribute to car accidents.

  • Blind curves: A blind curve is a curve or bend that you cannot see around. If another car is coming at a high speed from the opposite direction and is in the wrong lane, then it will be almost impossible to avoid a head-on collision. Or if another car has for some reason stopped around the bend, then you will almost certainly rear-end it.
  • Poorly banked roads: When going around a bend, vehicles incline or bank towards the inside of the turn due to centripetal force. For this reason, the surface of the road must also be inclined or banked at a certain angle towards the inside of the turn; otherwise, the centripetal force can cause speeding vehicles to fly off the road.
  • Roads with narrow shoulders: A shoulder is a reserved area by the side of a road, which is generally kept clear of motor vehicles. All roads must have wide shoulders. Road with narrow shoulders tend to develop uneven deformations at the pavement edge, making them risky for vehicular traffic.
  • Poor roadside landscaping: Roadside landscaping is an important part of good road design. Improper roadside landscaping can result in vision obstructions (i.e. drivers’ views are blocked by obstructions, such as trees) and other problems that can contribute to accidents.
  • Potholes and furrows: Potholes and furrows cause obstructions on the road, often resulting in traffic jams and sometimes accidents. They are caused by general wear and tear, constant traffic and harsh weather conditions. Bad road design can also result in potholes and furrows. Lack of regular maintenance is another cause of potholes and furrows.
  • Use of low quality road materials: Sometimes dishonest contractors may use low quality road materials to save costs. This can lead to potholes, furrows, cracks and other deformations, making the roads unsafe for vehicles.
  • Faded or missing road signs: Road signs are crucial to road safety. They provide drivers with important information like where to turn and where not to turn, how fast to drive, and where there is a bend. Faded or missing signs are often the result of negligence by the concerned state or federal agency and can result in car crashes.
  • Missing or poorly placed traffic signals: Traffic signals are vital parts of traffic management, especially in areas with high concentration of vehicles. But sometimes, there are no traffic signals where there should be (which can be blamed on oversight) and in some places, they are not placed correctly (which can also be blamed on oversight). Missing and poorly placed traffic signals can cause accidents.
  • Unsalted or unplowed roads in winter: Salt lowers the freezing point of water, which makes it an effective agent for melting ice and preventing falling snow or rain from freezing. This is why it is important to salt roads in winter. Unsalted and unplowed roads are the causes of many Fresno car accidents in winter.
  • Missing or broken guardrails and barriers: Guardrails and barriers play an important role in preventing accidents on stretches of the road that pass through unusual terrain. They keep vehicles from going off the road at sharp bends, prevent vehicles from running into roadside hazards, and ensure that opposing lanes of traffic do not collide into each other.

If you can prove that bad road design was a factor in your car accident and injury, then it may be possible to file a claim with the state, county or city that built the road. Consult reputable car accident attorneys in your area to find out if you have a good case and how to proceed if you do.

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