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The Dangers of Road Defects

The Dangers of Road DefectsWith the intention of making the roads safer, the Honda Research Institute has initiated a pilot program to help check for faded or missing highway lane markings. The company has developed a system that uses the driver-assistance camera and GPS systems to evaluate the condition of the roads on which they travel.

The systems will grade lane markings on a scale from Ideal (green), Good (yellow), Needs Repair (red), and No Lane Lines (gray). As of now, there are two vehicles used in the pilot program that will capture the location coordinates, as well as video clips and the images of the roads. The collected data will be anonymously sent to a secure platform where it can be analyzed and shared with the Ohio State Department of Transportation.

How dangerous are road defects?

It is true that one of the primary reasons for traffic accidents is driver error. However, another cause for serious traffic accidents that is commonly overlooked is road defects. For drivers to operate their vehicles in a safe manner, roads must be and remain constructed in safe manner. When streets and highways are missing important safety features, they contain road defects. Road defects can cause serious harm to even the safest and most cautious driver.

What are the different types of road defects?

One type of common road defect is a lack of road or traffic signals. Road signs are an important element in directing the flow of traffic and informing drivers of any oncoming hazards. When these signs are missing or malfunctioning, drivers are more likely to be caught off guard and unable to properly react to any oncoming hazards. They may choose to brake quickly or swerve off of the road to avoid any defect.

Another common road defect is one that irritates many drivers: potholes. Potholes are one of the most dangerous road defects when left unattended on streets and highways. They can create serious damage to a driver’s tires and car axles, making it difficult to maintain control of the vehicle. If the pothole is large enough, a car can even end up spinning, making the possibility of a traffic accident greater. Drivers can also end up in an accident when swerving in an attempt to avoid a pothole.

Other types of road defects include:

  • Missing, damaged, or otherwise defective barriers between roadways
  • Speed limits that are set too high (for the area or in general)
  • Missing, damaged, or otherwise defective traffic calming devices, like rumble strips or speed cushions
  • Missing, damaged, or otherwise defective streetlights
  • Pavement problems, including cracks, missing chunks, edge failure, and unlabeled differences in height due to road work or milling
  • Sinkholes
  • Missing, damaged, or other defective curbs
  • Untreated road erosion

What is water pooling?

Another common type of dangerous road defect is water pooling. Water pooling happens when puddles and larger areas of water collect around unevenly paved roads. These large puddles have the potential to cause vehicles to hydroplane and cause a traffic accident. Drivers are also at risk of splashing into these puddles of water and lose visibility, making it difficult to see the road ahead of them.

Are faded or missing lane markers a road defect?

Similar to a lack of proper signage, faded lane markers can contribute to a serious traffic accident. Drivers rely on lane marker guidance for direction, traffic flow, and oncoming warnings of any hazards or turns. When markings are so faded that they remain unclear to the motorists, this can have a serious consequence for the motorists and pedestrians. All it takes is a second of confusion to become involved in a serious traffic accident.

This is the problem Honda is attempting to solve with its pilot program. “We regularly inspect our roadways throughout Ohio and act quickly to address any issues, like faded or damaged pavement markings, that are identified. It’s a labor-intensive process. Good pavement markings are important to the drivers of today and the vehicles of tomorrow,” said Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jack Marchbanks. “We’re excited to work with Honda to improve the process.”

Who is responsible for road defect accidents?

City, county, and state agencies are responsible for making sure that all roads and highways are free from any defects, and that all roads have the proper safety features – including working traffic signals, signage, and maintenance. When these agencies fail to uphold their duties, they can be held liable in court for any injuries sustained in a traffic accident caused by these defects.

If it is proven in court that a road defect was the primary cause of a traffic accident, the town, municipality, or governing agency can be held liable. Any motorists involved in a traffic accident that was caused by a road defect should document all evidence of the hazard that could have contributed to the accident.

The responsibility of road maintenance is sometimes shared by more than one government agency. For example, a state agency may be responsible for paving the roads and filling in potholes, while a city agency may be responsible for snow removal and salting the roads. To strengthen a case and determine whether a particular agency can be held liable for any traffic accident, drivers want to determine which agency is responsible for a particular type of road maintenance. An experienced Phoenix attorney can help with this.

After figuring out which agency is responsible for maintaining the roads, the next step is showing that the negligence of the agency caused your accident and injuries. This means demonstrating the agency had reasonable notice of a road defect and had an adequate opportunity to resolve the road defect but failed to do so. In the case of a design defect, your attorney may also show the hazard occurred during design or construction.

You should know that lawsuits against government entities have different statutes of limitations, or time limits, than other types of personal injury lawsuits. Typically, you must serve the government entity with a Notice of Claim within 180 days, and a lawsuit must be filed within one year.

Do city, county, or state agencies in AZ have immunity from personal injury lawsuits?

Many government agencies have what’s called “sovereign immunity” from personal injury lawsuits, meaning that they cannot be sued without permission. These government agencies typically include this permission through an administrative claim process that serves as a prerequisite for the filing of a lawsuit. Arizona is one of these states, but exceptions to this immunity can and do apply. Plattner Verderame, P.C. has successfully represented clients in claims against government agencies because we know how to prove that such an agency should not be granted immunity. There are several ways to do this, and we can talk about your options based on the circumstances of your claim.

Traditionally, negligence in maintaining a roadway is the kind of wrongful conduct that can lead to a claim; however, there may be some constraints, such as the requirement to prove that the negligence was “clear” or obvious. An attorney can explain this in more detail.

At Plattner Verderame, P.C., we represent individuals who have experienced traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, or any serious injury caused by a vehicle crash. For help now, call our Phoenix and Tempe car accident attorneys at 602-266-2002, or complete our contact form today. Consultations are free. We take cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we only get paid if the case settles or we obtain a verdict on your behalf.