Roadway hazards of all types are often the cause of automobile accidents. Each year in California, there are thousands of car, truck and motorcycle accidents which are caused by roadway hazards. If you are injured in a roadway hazard accident, who or what entity may be liable is governed by negligence law.
Below are some of the most common roadway hazards that can and do cause accidents:
Potholes – Considered a type of failure in pavement cause by the presence of water under the ground surface and the weight of passing traffic overhead, potholes are road hazards that frequently cause accidents. While the typical pothole is just a few inches deep, it can be anywhere from a few inches to several feet wide, making it a very serious road hazard for passing cars, trucks and motorcycles.
Manhole covers – A manhole cover is a removable plate that forms a lid over the opening of a manhole. It is there to prevent people and objects from falling inside and to keep unauthorized individuals out. A manhole cover becomes a roadway hazard when it is not flush with the road surface or when it has been improperly placed and secured over the manhole. Motorcycle riders are at the highest risk for loose or improperly placed manhole covers as hitting one that’s ajar while traveling on two wheels can result in a horrific accident, severe injuries and even death. A manhole cover can become a flying hazard if hit just right by the wheel of a car or truck wherein it goes airborne.
Debris – Roadway debris includes substances, materials and objects that are foreign to the normal roadway surface. Debris on roadways can come from passing vehicles, the environment and from natural disasters and weather. More specifically, wind, storms, tornadoes and hurricanes can place dangerous debris of all types and sizes directly into the paths of vehicles traveling a roadway. Examples of road debris include: dust, dirt, sand, mud, asphalt, concrete, stones, pebbles, rocks, ice, snow, water, grease, engine oil, glass, nails, screws, auto parts, food, furniture, mattresses, garbage, luggage, animal corpses, construction supplies, leaves, twigs, seeds and more. Basically, anything that covers a roadway to cause a rise in accident risk is considered roadway debris.
Sink holes – a sinkhole is a large, opening in the ground that is caused by a collapse of the surface layer. A sink hole is often called a “swallow hole” and can open up in just a matter of minutes. A sinkhole can be tiny in size or it can be huge wherein it spans hundreds and even thousands of feet. Motorists traveling a busy roadway can become seriously injured and even killed if a large sinkhole were to suddenly open up and literally swallow the vehicles whole.
Black ice – Sometimes black ice is called clear ice. This is a thin layer of glazed ice that can be on a roadway surface. Because this ice is transparent, most drivers never see it which causes many accidents. Drivers often lose control on black ice wherein they slide off the road or into other vehicles because their tires have no traction. Black ice on bridges is particularly dangerous because air can circulate both above and below the road surface to cause very slick driving conditions.
Water – Water while seemingly innocent, can become a hazard when it collects, pools or runs on a roadway. Water on a roadway can cause slipperiness wherein vehicles traveling on that road can lose control and crash. Reasons why water can be on a roadway include snowy weather, rainy weather, loose roadway materials, flooding, poor construction of the roadway or a lack of sufficient drainage. Each year in the US, tens of thousands of automobile and truck accidents occur on wet roadways.
Loose Gravel or Stone – One of the most common roadway hazards is loose gravel or stone. When there is loose gravel or stone present on a roadway of any type, it can cause vehicles to spin out and lose control. Often times on roadways which are under construction, there is a great deal of loose gravel or stone present. In addition to causing motorists to lose control, loose stone/gravel can be sent airborne wherein it strikes nearby vehicles, motorcycle riders, bicycle riders and pedestrians. A person could be seriously injured by flying loose stone or gravel or even temporarily blinded wherein they could lose control of the vehicle they’re driving.
Blind Spots – Good driver visibility is essential to roadway safety. A blind spot in a vehicle is an area around the vehicle that cannot be directly viewed by the driver while at the controls. The parts of a vehicle that influence this visibility include the pillars, dashboard and windshield. Many California truck accidents happen due to blind spots because the drivers strike other vehicles they’re not aware of because they simply can’t see them.
Often times, truck drivers start to change lanes while being completely unaware that there are vehicles beside them. It is possible to seek compensation from a truck company or manufacturer if you become injured in a truck accident wherein the driver did not see you due to a blind spot on his vehicle.
Curves – Often times in California like other states, roadways are designed poorly or without enough consideration or care. When this is done, it can lead to a roadway being constructed with dangerous curves which are likely to surprise motorists, resulting in accidents. Unmarked curves can cause drivers to travel too fast wherein excessive speed leads to accidents of varying degrees of seriousness.
Lack of Guardrails – Guardrails are put alongside certain roadways that are considered dangerous due to their proximity to deep ditches and canyons. When a roadway that runs along a canyon, riverside or deep ditch is missing guardrails, very serious and even deadly car accidents can take place.
Winding Roads – Winding roads call for adequate warning signs to alert motorists of the hazards of driving on a road with many curves. Sometimes warning signs are missing from winding roads. This often leads to motorists losing control wherein they crash into each other or travel off the roadway and careen into deep ditches, canyons, etc.
Unmarked Construction – By law, roadway construction areas must be well marked with warning signs to tell drivers to slow down, stop, change lanes, etc. When a construction zone is lacking these warning signs, serious accidents can very easily happen. It’s possible for motorists to become involved in deadly head-on crashes and to strike construction workers because the drivers were given no warning to reduce their speed. When someone is seriously injured in a car, truck or motorcycle accident due to unmarked construction, he or she may be able to hold the road construction company responsible for his/her injuries and related damages.