The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) is responsible for keeping Rhode Island’s roadways in safe condition. The RIDOT may work with local departments of public works and other organizations to carry out these duties. However, when a roadway is not maintained properly, either due to oversight, negligence, lack of funding, or other reasons, hazardous roadways can cause serious accidents resulting in injuries and fatalities.
Types of Roadway Hazards
The most common roadway hazards that can cause serious accidents and injuries include the following:
- Poor road design: width of lanes may not be adequate, or curves may be angled too steeply.
- Road wear and tear: potholes, cracks, and other hazards can cause accidents if the road is not properly maintained.
- Lighting: inadequate or broken lighting can make it impossible for drivers to see signs, obstacles, and pedestrians.
- Weather: winter weather driving can result in accidents. Rain, wind, and fog can also make roads dangerous, even if the temperature is above freezing. Sometimes poor drainage of roadways increases the build-up of ice or water, causing slippery surfaces.
- Signals and signs: malfunctioning traffic signals and signs that are missing, broken or obscured may result in accidents.
- Road construction: construction zones increase the risk of accidents for both motorists and workers. Lanes and turns that are too narrow, insufficient signage, and other hazards can all cause accidents.
- Improperly installed, broken, or missing rails: guardrails are designed to prevent more serious accidents by keeping cars on the road and out of ditches, ravines, and other dangerous conditions. When a guardrail is broken or hasn’t been installed properly, serious injuries can result.
Rhode Island Roadway Hazard Statistics
Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the nation, but it’s not small in terms of road miles. According to the RIDOT, as of 2011, Rhode Island has:
- 6,523 miles of roadways;
- 806 bridges;
- 777 traffic signals; and
- 115 traffic cameras.
Rhode Island is unfortunately notorious for having more than its fair share of potholes. Bridges are of particular concern when it comes to Rhode Island roadway hazard risks. In 2011, the RIDOT estimated that 171 of the state’s bridges, or 21 percent of the total, were "structurally deficient" in some way. An additional 216 bridges, or 27 percent of the total, were rated "functionally obsolete." Lastly, 25 bridges, or 3.1 percent of the total, were closed due to safety issues.
Roadway Hazard Injuries
Injuries and fatalities in accidents caused by roadway hazards are less common in Rhode Island than those caused by reckless behaviors, like drunk driving, distracted driving, or speeding. However, these accidents can cause both deaths and serious injuries. Some injuries that may result from a roadway hazard include:
- traumatic brain injury (TBI);
- spinal cord injuries (SCI);
- fractures to one or more bones;
- whiplash and other soft tissue injuries;
- scarring, lacerations, or abrasions; and
- burn injuries.
Drivers who suddenly swerve to avoid roadway hazards can cause serious accidents. Roadway hazards also endanger more than just drivers and their passengers. Pedestrians and bicyclists may also be placed at higher risk of injury and death, especially if a roadway hazard blocks drivers’ lines of sight so they cannot see pedestrians and bicyclists in time to avoid an accident. Pedestrians and bicyclists can also be endangered by cracks, potholes, and other pavement hazards.
Committed to Personal, Social, and Economic Justice
At Marasco & Nesselbush, Rhode Island’s trusted personal injury law firm, our experienced accident attorneys are dedicated to obtaining extraordinary legal results for our clients. We obtain personal, social, and economic justice for our injured and disabled clients by holding those who have harmed them accountable. In our many years of experience representing those injured in roadway hazard cases, our attorneys have effectively countered the barriers put forth by insurance companies, and negotiated full and fair settlements for our clients, or brought their cases to court. To learn more about our services, please fill out the free case evaluation.
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