Dangerous Conditions for Car Accidents
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Kathy McArthur with McArthur Law Firm.
Most of us can remember the trick-questions on our written drivers’ license test about which weather condition is the most dangerous (i.e. black ice, freezing rain, etc.). While none of them are particularly safe, it’s important to note that adverse weather conditions only account for a small number of the dangerous conditions a driver will need to account for in their life. A myriad of conditions can cause or contribute to car accidents; maintaining awareness of these conditions is a good way to practice defensive driving and keep yourself and your passengers as safe as possible at all times on the road.
Some dangerous road conditions which might put drivers at higher risks of an accident include the following:
- Potholes and wheel ruts: When potholes, wheel ruts, or any other damage occurs to the surface of the roadway, the resulting dips, holes, cracks, and ruts can cause a car to lose control when a driver unknowingly passes over or into them.
- Missing guardrails: Guardrails and barriers designed to separate vehicles traveling in opposite directions play an important role in preventing head-on collisions. When a street or highway does not have some type of barrier or the responsible party fails to maintain the barriers to prevent vehicles from crossing, catastrophic accidents can occur.
- Missing or faded road signs: Finding yourself behind a vehicle that clearly doesn’t know where it's going can be frustrating, and it can also be dangerous. When drivers can not make out or find the road sign they need, this can cause them to engage in unsafe driving behaviors, such as slowing to speeds that do not align with traffic flow or turning faster significantly faster than is safe.
- Ice and snow: According to Safe Roads USA, weather conditions have been linked to approximately 11% of all fatal car accidents in the United States. The slippery conditions caused by ice and snow are particularly hazardous, as many vehicles cannot operate properly or effectively on these surfaces; this often causes drivers to lose control of their vehicle and crash.
- Changes in roadway surfaces: Asphalt, concrete, and even steel all play a part in roadway design. However, when a change in the material used to construct the roadway’s surface occurs without warning, it can be hard for drivers to adjust. Some surfaces may freeze or retain water, more than others, requiring different driving techniques to pass over safely than the area of roadway behind it.
- Poorly painted or faded lines: When lines on the roadway or poorly painted or faded with time, this can cause extreme confusion for drivers. Lines on the roadway are intended to indicate to drivers which lane to drive within, and when that lane is going to merge with another. Poorly painted or faded lines present a significant hazard to drivers trying to navigate safely around other vehicles sharing the road.
- Shoulder drop off: The area of a roadway between a lane of traffic and the actual side of the road is referred to as the “shoulder”. This is a place where vehicles should ideally be able to pull out of traffic into relative safety for a short time while they deal with a mechanical difficulty with their vehicle. However, when a shoulder is paved more than two inches below the actual roadway surface, this drop off can cause significant danger to drivers pulling over or who simply drift out of their lane.
- Poor road design: Sharp turns, blind curves, and roads without sufficient warning signs or traffic lights may all indicate poor road design. Effective roadway design is imperative to driver safety. When an accident occurs due to poor roadway design, it is possible that the local, state, or federal government may be held responsible.
- Unsafe work areas: Construction is a common hazard on the road, and while in most cases drivers present more of a threat to construction workers than the other way around, when a work area is not visible or is otherwise exceptionally hazardous to surrounding traffic, accidents can occur.
- Adverse weather conditions: In addition to ice and snow marring the surface of the roadway, storms, high winds, heavy rains, and sleet are just a few other weather conditions that can reduce visibility or otherwise affect a vehicle’s relative safety on the road. If weather conditions are likely to inhibit safe driving, it’s better to wait until they pass before getting on the road.
To learn more about common conditions linked to car accidents, or to discuss your options for physical and financial recovery after a wreck, reach out to a car accident attorney.