Can the Design of the Road Affect the Behavior of Drivers?

Can the Design of the Road Affect the Behavior of Drivers?Most of the time, motor vehicle accidents happen because of the errors or mistakes made by drivers. However, the negligent design of some highways, interstates, and roads in Columbus, Ohio, is leading to dangerous situations and unnecessary accidents.

According to a recent report by The Ohio State University News, the way that roads look to the drivers makes a huge difference regarding their risks of being involved in serious or deadly accidents. According to the report, “street segments that were classified as ‘open roads’ – those where the photos showed more visible sky, more roadway and more signs – had 48% more crashes that caused injury or death than those classified as ‘open residential.’”

And there are a lot of these not-so-open roads in Columbus: “The open road classification included almost all of the highway segments in Columbus (93%), but it also included more than half of the city’s arterial road segments (59%) – the major high-capacity roads through the city.”

Why does this matter? Because when roads in urban or city areas look like “open roads,” drivers believe that they can drive safely on them at high speeds as they are very similar to high-speed highways.  The way a road is designed can make drivers think they can operate a vehicle a certain way safely, even though that is not true. This can result in a dangerous situation quickly because the road designers do not consider the driver’s point of view when driving.

Examples of poor road design characteristics in Columbus

One of the more interesting aspects of the report dealt with road signs and trash cans, of all things. The data showed that there were fewer serious crashes in areas where trash cans were visible, and a greater number of serious crashes where drivers could see road signs. This is because trash cans indicate residential areas, and residential areas in Columbus have narrower roads. They also have people, so we tend to slow down and drive more safely in those areas. Road signs, according to the analysts, indicate more “complexity” in the road, and challenging roads often have more accidents on them.

Road design is not an issue specific to Columbus or even Ohio. It’s a significant enough concern that “road design” is a critical component of the US Department of Transportation’s Safe System Approach: if a road is not designed properly, it can be very dangerous for motorists to drive on.

The government is usually responsible for developing and maintaining roadways safely and efficiently. This means that, ideally, no roads should have defects caused by the design that could lead to a dangerous or deadly accident, such as:

  • Roads that are too wide or narrow
  • Not enough pedestrian crossings
  • Outdated and confusing roadway designs
  • Not enough drains
  • Not enough or no shoulder space
  • Not enough stop lights or signs
  • Roads with low visibility at night
  • Missing guard rails on curves or turns
  • Poles or objects placed too close to the road

While most roads are safe to drive on, everyone has seen their fair share of dangerous roads because of their design or maintenance. Accidents and injuries could be prevented if roads are properly designed, fixed, and taken care of by the proper authorities. Doing so could save millions in medical care and lives.

Common injuries in Columbus car accidents

Individuals who travel on poorly designed roads may eventually end up in a motor vehicle accident, either by themselves or with another driver. Some of the injuries you can sustain in a wreck on a poorly designed road include:

  • Internal damage to organs
  • Facial injuries
  • Amputations
  • Whiplash
  • Neck injuries
  • Crush injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Wrongful death
  • Psychological and emotional distress

When governments weigh saving money on redesigning the road against the risks of individuals being severely injured or dying because of the road, it seems obvious that safety should be the priority.

Seeking compensation after an accident on a dangerous road

When a driver follows the required speed limit, safely operates the vehicle, follows all traffic laws, and STILL gets into an accident, it is important to start looking at the conditions and design of the roadways instead of only focusing on the driver’s mistakes and errors. If you are injured in a one-vehicle crash or a collision with one or more vehicles because of the dangerous road design, you may be able to file a claim against the government agency responsible for designing and maintaining the road.

You should know, though, that these claims can be a challenge. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the Ohio Department of Transportation is not necessarily liable when roads are dangerous, though it can be held liable if “it fails to abide by current construction standards or otherwise acts negligently in executing a decision to improve an existing highway” (Risner v. Ohio Dept. of Transp., 145 Ohio St.3d 55, 2015-Ohio-4443.) If your injuries are the result of another driver’s negligence, then you can make a claim against that negligent party.

The Columbus car accident attorneys at Soroka & Associates believe that the parties responsible for your injuries should be held accountable, no matter who those parties are. If you have been involved in a car accident on a poorly designed road and there were no warning signs, please contact one of our Columbus personal injury attorneys today. We serve clients throughout Central Ohio, and we will listen to your case, review your rights with you, and determine the compensation you may receive. Please call or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation.