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AutoBlog: STUDY: Majority of highway fatalities caused by deficient road conditions

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Filed under: Maintenance, Government/Legal, Safety

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What would you think to be the leading contributor to fatalities in car crashes here in the States? Failure to use seat belts? Speeding? Drunk driving? Think again. According to a new study commissioned by Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE), the leading cause of highway fatalities is deficient road conditions. In fact, the study asserts, with a roadway-related crash occurring every minute on American streets, inadequate roadway infrastructure is responsible for the majority of highway fatalities in the United States and over a third of injuries incurred in non-fatal crashes as well.

Given the state of many roadways, you might think that the situation - like America's road network - is beyond repair. However, the study, entitled "On a Crash Course: The Dangers and Health Costs of Deficient Roadways," assesses the financial cost alone of crashes caused by these substandard roadways - as a whopping $217 billion annually, including medical bills, loss of productivity and property damage. That's more than three-and-a-half times the $59 billion which local, state and federal governments in the United States invest in improving America's roadways. PIRE's solution? Improving road conditions, of course, including better signage and markings, widening shoulders and removing obstacles from roadsides. Follow the jump to read more on PIRE's findings and suggested solutions for what it deems is one of the largest killers in America.

[source: Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation | Image: STR/AFP/Getty]

Continue reading STUDY: Majority of highway fatalities caused by deficient road conditions

STUDY: Majority of highway fatalities caused by deficient road conditions originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 02 Jul 2009 10:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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I don't buy it. If anything, something considered a road deficiency is likely something that just can't keep up to inadequate driving skill or over-driving the roadway. There's no secret we're a world of idiots with a society pandering to them.

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Road deficiency is such a broad term. It could bean a lack of striping, rumble strips, not an adequate center divider, SO MUCH COULD BE MEANT BY THIS!

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Road deficiency is such a broad term. It could bean a lack of striping, rumble strips, not an adequate center divider, SO MUCH COULD BE MEANT BY THIS!

+1

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Is a road deficient because it won't drain rain away or isn't plowed fast enough for frequently enough?

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Road deficiency is such a broad term. It could bean a lack of striping, rumble strips, not an adequate center divider, SO MUCH COULD BE MEANT BY THIS!

I absolutely agree. IMHO, 98% of roads are wide enough, lit and signed properly and have sufficient shoulders and dividers. Poor drivers are going to use this excuse no matter how wide, bright, signed and cleared the roads are. "Its not my fault that I lost control on the NJ Turnpike and crashed into the Status of Liberty... its obviously too unsafe to be that close to the roadway and needs to be demolished!" (For non-locals the Statue is about three miles from the closest bit of NJ Turnpike roadway.)

My biggest gripe about road deficiency are the roads like the roads under the elevated trains in Brooklyn... narrow lanes with concrete and steel beams every 20 feet BETWEEN the lanes. I've ridden down here... when the lines all change, its a speedway... whizzing by 3 inches away from a steel beam at 60 mph is pretty scary.

Even more so are those sections of roads that never seem to get repaved. Road surface is extremely important, as people don't take into consideration the effect of potholes, crumble or ruts on their braking and handling... especially in the rain or snow. Around here, there are several roads that got resurfaced repeatedly when the worst imperfection were a couple tar strips... whereas the street around the corner with the same volume was last paved in 1927 and is like driving through a third world country... at 60 mph.

Traffic jams = road deficiency

In general, I agree. However, there are a lot spots where traffic jams are seemingly created on purpose by the traffic engineers. I think the original idea was to create congestion points to slow drivers and enhance safety... however, in an overloaded system, it just creates road rage. Anyway, this is a concept that really grates on me.

An example... The Atlantic City Expressway goes from Atlantic City to the Philadelphia suburbs. To AC, its mostly three lanes. From AC, its mostly two lanes. Huh? Did 1/3 of the people never leave AC?!? (by AC's draining population, that's certainly not the case). To make matters worse, on a three day weekend come into town slowly over the first day. When do they leave? Yeah, all at once... the last day right about when the thunderstorm clouds appear. Where is the 3 lane to 2 lane merge... just westbound of the Garden State Parkway... where all the people from southernly shore points are getting on the Expressway, as well, to go to Phila. Parking lot. Luckily, I've gotten used to this and can spot it in time to "escape" from the Expressway.

The Expressway people have promised a third lane for a decade. The land is there. It even appears to already be gravel in most spots. Not to oversimplify the process of adding a lane, but it should be relatively cheap and quick. The latest rumor is that we get the lane this fall... I'm not holding my breath.

They also recently did the same thing for the Raritan bridge on the Graden State Parkway... 12 lanes north, 6 lanes south over three parallel bridges. Originally, I thought they were going to make the center bridge reverseable... but thats not the case. I guess 6 lanes of northbound traffic must go to the soylent green factory.

Its been argued that building roads begets more traffic...which requires more roads... a vicious cycle. That said, you still have to build roads. The idea that one is 5 miles away from Manhattan, but an HOUR away is crazy. Either fix your public transportation or build roads. In NYC, the best public transportation system in the US, the subways are built to fit the population pattern from 1910... build more subways! The buses that are used to fill the subway deficiencies just add to the traffic problem. At some point you have to decide to fund public transportation or road building. Space an issue? Make the roads double and triple decker. It'll be like a parking garage 5 miles long.

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There's a fairly long patch of road on I-5 up here that is downright dangerous with wider tires. I've driven through this area and if I wasn't paying attention I could easily have ended up slamming into the barrier. The rut catches you by surprise and really yanks on the wheels. It's just the left most lane that I noticed.

That being said, I bet "deficient road conditions" gets blamed a lot in cases of driver skill deficiency.

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I don't buy it. If anything, something considered a road deficiency is likely something that just can't keep up to inadequate driving skill or over-driving the roadway. There's no secret we're a world of idiots with a society pandering to them.

I agree, while there are certainly cases where poorly maintained roads can be a factor in causing accidents, poor driver still is the bigger issue. If you're familiar with a road you should know what to expect and use caution if needed. if you aren't familiar with a road that has blind turns and such, use caution.

People running read lights, not signaling, speeding, going 35 in a 65 highway, pulling out right in front of traffic without waiting to be let go or for a clearing, being impatient, not paying attention to the signs, etc. are far bigger issues.

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I can see were this is going. that said Michigan residents that have used the 696 to 94 east ramp know how bad the left lanes are. recently somebody was killed because the rough road snapped the cars tie rod and the wheel pivoted into a pot hole and flipped the car. The report said they were doing about 50-60 which is acceptable. That section of road destroys suspension components and alignments.

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Our roads, like most of our infrastructure, are outdated and substandard.

The decline of empire, I suppose.

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I don't travel that far- throughout NJ, but only upon occasion into PA or NY.

From this Tri-state area & my observation, I cannot agree that 'our road infrastructure is outdated' at all.

And this study smells like a thinly-veiled money grab based on poor research, but how would I know.

And this:

>>you might think that the situation - like America's road network - is beyond repair.<< reads like a joke to me.

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I disagree with the premise that the roadways are to blame for most fatalities, but I do agree that funding for transportation infrastructure is woefully inadequate. The gas tax is about half of what it needs to be, as a result of inflation and improved vehicle mileage, but there is no political will to increase it to what it should be.

Making the roadway environment more forgiving will obviously decrease the number of fatalities. There have been huge strides in improved roadway barriers and attenuators, and vehicles themselves are much safer. The increased awareness of drunk driving and increased use of seatbelts likewise have paid dividends. However, if motorists paid more attention to their driving and did the things that they are supposed to, such as drive safe speeds, not tailgate or be overly aggressive, and properly maintained their vehicles, there would be a huge decrease in fatalities.

Increased congestion tends to decrease the fatality rate, because with congestion comes lower speeds.

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I don't travel that far- throughout NJ, but only upon occasion into PA or NY.

From this Tri-state area & my observation, I cannot agree that 'our road infrastructure is outdated' at all.

And this study smells like a thinly-veiled money grab based on poor research, but how would I know.

And this:

>>you might think that the situation - like America's road network - is beyond repair.<< reads like a joke to me.

When talking about Pennsylvania, I have to think of the Pennapike where they have bridges that are too low for trucks in the right lane. That is a bit outdated.

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