Defective Road Conditions & Car Accidents

Every summer, millions of families hit the road and set out for a memorable summer vacation. Whether you’re taking a short trip to the lake cabin or a week long road trip to see some of America’s “must see” landmarks, you may be at a greater risk for being involved in a car accident. Not only do our roadways become more congested with fellow travelers, but road construction and traffic delays can add to hazardous road conditions and often resulting in defective roads.

Whether you hit a giant pothole in the road or find yourself in an unmarked road construction zone, a defective road can lead to an accident that can quickly sour your summer road trip. Here are some tips for avoiding defective roads and what to do if you’re involved in an accident which resulted from a poorly maintained roadway:

Defective Roads are a Contributing Factor

Driving and highway safety

Image: kieferpix – ThinkStock Images

When thinking about factors that contribute to car accidents, we may be more likely to think about driving behaviors such as distracted driving, driving while drunk or drowsy, and engaging in reckless behaviors like speeding, but many drivers forget that our roadways, themselves, can cause a significant amount of accidents. According to Pajcic & Pajcic, car accident attorneys in Jacksonville, the design of a roadway or the lack of maintenance can contribute to an accident. Other times, a work zone that is set up for construction or maintenance may not adequately warn drivers to slow down or through a poor layout, leads to collisions.

In addition to the poor design of a roadway or inadequately marked construction zones, defective road conditions may include, but are not limited to: potholes or sinkholes in the road, unlevel lanes in the road, narrow roads, construction debris on the road, lack of sufficient shoulder on the road,and confusing street signage.

How Big is the Problem?

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), an estimated 42% of major highways across the U.S. remain congested and over $100 billion is wasted in fuel and time. The average commuter spends about 42 hours per year stuck in gridlock, due to road construction and simply not enough roadway for the amount of commuters ( a clear issue of supply and demand). ASCE reports that although there is about $91 billion of Federal, state, and local funding set aside to fix road infrastructure, the Federal Highway Administration estimates that $170 billion would be needed annually to make significant improvements on road conditions.

Additionally, while the funding exists, the problem may lie in the way the money is spent. Rather than utilizing funds to fix and maintain existing and potentially hazardous roads, a significant portion of funding is used for new construction. Although new roads are needed to keep up with the population growth in urban areas, existing roads must continue to be maintained for the safety of all motorists.

Who’s at Fault?

Even when you’re driving on familiar roads, a defective road issue, such as a pothole, can pop up suddenly or go unnoticed until it’s too late and you have damage to your car or have been involved in an accident. When you’re traveling on unfamiliar roads, while on vacation, you may be even more likely to run into problems on the road because you don’t know the roads well (even if you pay close attention).

If you’ve found yourself colliding with another vehicle in a poorly marked road construction zone, does that mean that you’re at fault? Maybe not. If you are involved in an accident due to defective road conditions, you may have a claim against the governmental agency in charge of the road, as well as the other driver or the contractor responsible for the road.

What to Do if You Encounter a Defective Road

If you are involved in an accident due to a road condition, it’s important to collect and record the following information before you report your claim: the general location of the poor condition, the name of the road, the direction you were traveling, the description of the condition, and contact information of any witnesses or other people involved. It’s also important to report the road condition, regardless of the severity of the damage to your vehicle. Reporting can help keep other drivers safer and is likely to speed up the process needed to repair the road.


Author: Matt Rhoney