Driving can be a dangerous business. Hundreds or thousands of pounds of machinery traveling at a high rate of speed can make for some serious damage. That’s why dangerous road conditions are responsible for a significant portion of the accidents that occur in the State of California each year. In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the more common dangerous road conditions that can be encountered. If you’re aware of the types of conditions that you can encounter, you’re more likely to be able to deal with the dangers that they pose.
Potholes can represent a considerable risk to the average driver. When deep enough, they can cause serious damage to the suspension and control mechanisms in a car. However, even the most minor of potholes can represent a danger when a driver swerves to avoid one. Any quick movement on the steering wheel of a car can send the vehicle into a spin or into the path of another car.
Damaged or Missing Road Signs
Every driver depends upon road signs for directions and warnings while driving. A damaged or missing road sign is problematic for two reasons. First, if it is a directional sign, drivers are going to take their attention away from the road where it belongs in an attempt to try and determine where they are. Second, if the sign contained a warning about upcoming conditions, for example an upcoming merge or stop sign, an unsuspecting and unprepared driver could come upon the changed traffic conditions with little or no time to react. In either case, the result is a confused driver and confused driver is an unsafe driver.
The shoulder of a road is extremely important to driver safety. In an emergency, if a driver needs to pull over, the shoulder is often the only safe refuge that allows them to do so. If the shoulder has been improperly designed so that it does not evenly meet the road surface, traveling from the roadway to the shoulder could cause a driver to overcorrect the movement into the shoulder, causing them to lose control of the vehicle.
Improperly Graded Curves
Think about a curve in a road. It is essentially an angle that takes the traffic from the roadway and sends it in a different direction. In most cases, that angle is shallow enough to accomplish the redirection of traffic in a safe manner. However, when the curve has been improperly graded, the angle of the turn is more sharp that a driver is accustomed to encountering. As a result, they may be unable to safely navigate the turn, which could cause their vehicle to leave the roadway resulting in injuries and even death.
Snow and Ice
Snow and ice on a roadway are an obvious safety hazard. A natural accumulation of snow and ice is essentially an act of nature that no one is responsible for. However, if a government entity undertakes to clear the snow and ice from the roadway, they must do so in a reasonably safe manner. A failure to exercise reasonable safety in clearing the roadway could result in accident and injury to drivers using the road.
Pooled or standing water on a road surface represents a serious safety hazard. To begin with, standing water is largely invisible until a driver is right on top of it. In addition, a car breaking on standing water runs a significant risk of hydroplaning, significantly reducing the ability of the tires to grip the surface of the road. Pooled water can be caused by improper roadway design.
No Traffic Control Devices
Certain intersections require traffic control devices due to the amount of vehicle traffic traveling on the roadways. Stop signs and traffic signals serve to control the flow of traffic in both directions, allowing every driver to cross through the intersection in relative safety. A failure to install adequate traffic control devices where necessary can cause drivers to head through an intersection without stopping which, if conditions permit, can cause an accident and injuries.
A clear view of the roadway and the signage on it is necessary to the safe operation of any motor vehicle. When objects adjacent to the roadway impede a clear view of what’s ahead, they increase the risk that a driver on the road will be unprepared for upcoming traffic conditions. For example, a stop sign controlling an intersection is useless if a driver can’t see it because the sign is obstructed by bushes and trees.
Driving at night greatly increases the chances of being involved in a car accident. The reason for this is obvious – we simply cannot see as well at night as we do during the day. This is why adequate street lighting is necessary for the safe operation of a motor vehicle at night. In situations where the lighting is inadequate, a driver may be unable to see dangerous road conditions, obstructions or even other vehicles. A serious accident could be the result.
Broken or Damaged Guardrails.
Guardrails serve to keep vehicles on the road in the event of an accident or a loss of control. They are usually placed to prevent a vehicle from entering an oncoming lane of traffic or from leaving the roadway altogether. If there has previously been an accident or loss of control at a location where there are guardrails, those guardrails could be broken or damaged as a result. If they are not repaired and another accident occurs, they may fail and allow a vehicle to cross into oncoming traffic or leave the roadway.
Poorly Marked or Unsafe Work Zones
When repair or maintenance work is being done on a roadway, it is imperative that driver’s be given adequate notice of this work so that they can reduce their speed and travel more cautiously. A failure to give adequate notice can result in accident and injury simply because a driver did not expect to have to slow down and did not have enough time to react to the changed traffic conditions.