Big Rigs – How Can Roadways Cause Problems

Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP Oct. 16, 2014

Many factors contribute to accidents with big rigs. Driver error accounts for many of these incidents; however, there are other causes, according to truck accident attorneys, including road conditions and obstructions. The design of the road can affect driving characteristics of a loaded truck and putting drivers and other vehicles in dangerous situations. These factors must be considered when reviewing an accident to learn how to avoid a similar incident in the future.

Road Condition and Design

Some might think that all roads can handle heavy trucks. However, according to experienced attorneys who handle truck accidents cases, that belief is a common misunderstanding. Besides maneuverability, there are other concerns for big trucks when they must drive on less than ideal roads.

Open highways are the safest place for big trucks, according to truck accident attorneys. When forced to drive on narrower streets in residential areas or winding rural roads, the risk of an accident increases. Larger commercial vehicles are prohibited from traveling on some roads for this very reason; however, there is always a threat for problems on any road. Factors such as weather, traffic, lack of road maintenance, and unclear signage can increase the risk of accidents, all of which vary by location.

The statistics are sobering when considering roadway condition and design. On both highways and smaller streets, roadway conditions in 2009 were a contributing factor in up to 22,000 of the nation’s traffic-related fatalities and over one third of all accident-related injuries.1 These statistics make road construction and condition the most significant factors in overall traffic accidents.2 Large commercial vehicles are more difficult to control on bad surfaces and poorly maintained roads, making them more likely to be involved in an accident when operating under such conditions. Attorneys who handle truck accidents report that slick surfaces, soft or broken shoulders, lack of guardrails, tight curves, and other similar design or weather-related issues contribute to accidents with 18-wheelers.

The Cost of Bad Roadway Conditions

The cost in 2009 for property damage and personal injuries due to roadway-related accidents was $217 billion, a staggering $100 billion more than alcohol-related accidents.3 This cost was shared by private and public businesses that together paid $22 billion4 for accidents involving their employees. This price tag for roadway-related accidents due to deficient streets and highways cannot continue to be overlooked according to truck accident attorneys.

A good first step to improve these statistics would be to make sure that truck drivers are aware of at-risk roads and highways. Truck accident attorneys advise that there is more to do than just this one step, because poor road conditions are not always known ahead of time. Drivers must also understand that just being in some locations increases the possibility of an accident, such as in any area where large vehicles have maneuverability problems.

With the help of truck accident attorneys who are aware of the factors which cause accidents with big rigs, it may be possible to identify when poor roadway conditions were the true cause of trucking accidents – and determine ways to prevent such accidents in the future.

1, 2, 3, 4 The Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation: On A Crash Course: The Dangers and Health Costs of Deficient Roadways. (2009)