Car accidents can happen even on perfectly maintained roads. However, wear and tear and other damage affecting the road can increase the chance of a crash. Poor road conditions can make it more difficult to control a vehicle and make drivers more likely to panic, both of which increase the risk of an accident. Being aware of common hazards and how to handle them can help drivers navigate unsafe roads.
Poor road conditions can increase the risk of a serious accident. These are some common hazards drivers should be aware of.
Most drivers are familiar with the frustration potholes can cause. These holes in the pavement happen when roads aren’t maintained well. As vehicles drive on the road, the underlying soil can shift, which can lead to cracks in the asphalt. Potholes lead to more than $3 billion a year in vehicle damage, and they can lead to accidents as well.
Objects on the road lead to more than 50,000 accidents each year. Debris can include fallen trees, items that have fallen from other vehicles and car parts from previous crashes.
Sometimes drivers need to travel on gravel or unpaved roads. Paved roads can also become uneven due to poor maintenance. Regardless of the reason a road surface is uneven, it can make it more difficult for drivers to stop safely.
Driving at night is both more challenging and more dangerous, with fatal accidents being around three times more likely after dark. Minimal lighting makes it more difficult for drivers to be aware of their surroundings, which increases the chance of an accident.
Drivers rely on road signs to navigate and understand road conditions, especially when they’re driving in an unfamiliar area. If road signs aren’t clear and visible, drivers are more likely to miss exits or turns, or encounter a change in the road without proper warning. Lines on the road are similarly important. When lines are faded, drivers are more likely to cross into another lane without realizing or have difficulty identifying the edge of the road. When drivers become confused because of unclear signage, they’re more likely to panic and crash.
When drivers have a choice of routes, they should opt for better-lit, better-maintained roads when possible. However, this isn’t always realistic. When poor conditions are unavoidable, there are several strategies drivers can use to reduce the risk of an accident.
Many drivers are focused on getting to their destinations as quickly as possible. However, this approach makes dealing with unsafe conditions even more dangerous. Drivers should remember that speed limits are set based on ideal road conditions, and they should slow down when the road isn’t well maintained. Leaving plenty of space between cars also makes it easier to react safely to road hazards. Slower speeds and additional buffer space let drivers stop on a slippery road or avoid a pothole with less risk of a crash.
Driving over these road hazards might seem safer than swerving to avoid them. However, even small pieces of debris can cause serious vehicle damage, which can result in a crash.
Drivers need to be careful not to create another dangerous situation while trying to avoid a piece of debris or other road hazard. This means they should never slam the brakes or swerve suddenly to avoid hitting something. Sudden stops can cause collisions, and swerves can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle. Instead, drivers should slow down gradually and maneuver carefully to avoid debris.
When roads aren’t well lit, drivers rely on their headlights even more than usual. High beams are a great tool for increasing a driver’s field of vision on open roads with little traffic. However, drivers need to avoid using them in foggy weather or when another driver is approaching. Bright lights can actually make visibility worse in these conditions.
Being involved in a car accident is usually distressing and overwhelming. It’s important for drivers to remember some key steps they should take after an accident. Drivers should:
If the driver is able, it’s a good idea to take down as much documentation about the accident as possible before leaving the scene. This includes photos of the damages, photos of road conditions and notes about what happened, such as the speed they were driving. These notes and photos will make it easier to file a claim if the driver needs to do so later on.
The most important thing drivers can do to stay safe on the roads is to be aware of their surroundings, including both the road conditions and other drivers. However, there are some additional steps drivers can take before they get behind the wheel.
Routine vehicle maintenance should be a given. Problems with the car itself make poorly maintained roads even more dangerous. Two important areas to pay attention to are windshields and headlights. Drivers should make sure their windshields are clean and in good condition. Cloudy windshields can increase glare and make nighttime visibility worse. Headlights should be at the correct angle to allow for good visibility without blinding other drivers. Most states don’t include this in their inspection requirements, so drivers may need to ask their service center to check the angle themselves.
The best way to deal with a car accident is to prevent it from happening in the first place. However, if you’ve been in an accident caused by poor road conditions and are considering filing a claim, a personal injury attorney can provide the expert advice you need.
If you have been injured in a car accident, our expert team can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us or call us at 918-359-6600 today for a free consultation.