Whether you are driving on the most dangerous roads across the country or simply commuting to and from work, there are many driving hazards you should watch out for.
The chances of being in an auto accident are quite high. In fact, there were 14,386 accidents per day in 2020, based on statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Based on those statistics, ValuePenguin estimated that in 2020, Americans had a 1 in 63 chance of being in an auto accident.
However, you can lessen your chances of being in a car accident by being aware of roadway hazards and practicing safe driving techniques.
This article will discuss the top ten driving hazards and who may be liable if you have an accident from these hazards when driving.
10 Common Driving Hazards That Cause Car Accidents
There are many driving hazards to look out for, but these are the ten top common roadway hazards that lead to accidents.
1. Heavy Traffic
Being stuck in heavy traffic is one of the most common hazards when driving. Bumper-to-bumper traffic can make you more susceptible to being involved in a rear-end collision.
In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, rear-end collisions are the most frequently occurring type of collision. In many cases, this is because people get distracted and start texting or doing other things while they wait for traffic to move.
Congested traffic is more common in big cities such as Boston, Massachusetts. However, you can find yourself stuck in traffic no matter where you live due to accidents, construction, or inclement weather conditions.
So, it’s vital to always be aware of your surroundings, even in slow-moving traffic.
2. Icy Roads
One of the most dangerous driving hazards to watch out for is icy roads. The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration reported that more than 116,800 people are injured a year from vehicle crashes due to icy, snowy, and slushy road conditions.
If you live in a snowy state such as Minnesota, it’s essential to know how to drive safely in these conditions. It’s best to stay off the highways if possible, but you can take a few driving precautions to reduce your risk of an accident.
It’s vital that you reduce your speed and increase the distance between you and other vehicles. This way, if you lose control of your vehicle, it reduces the chance of a collision with another car.
Another important tip is never use cruise control during inclement weather. It may cause you to lose control of the steering of your vehicle because the wheels are spinning at different speeds.
3. Water Puddles
Driving through a heavy downpour is risky in itself, but the water puddles left behind are also one of the worst roadway hazards you may encounter. Hitting a water puddle at high speeds can cause you to hydroplane and lose control of your vehicle.
Wet pavement causes almost 1 million accidents annually. Poor road conditions combined with water puddles can lead to deadly consequences.
4. Oil Slicks
Oil slicks are among the most dangerous hazards when driving because they can look like wet pavement but are much slicker. Oil leaking from vehicles can build up on the road, and rain can cause the residue to rise to the surface.
Car and tractor-trailer accidents can also leave oil slicks behind, and sometimes there are large oil spills from leaking vehicles, or tanker trucks hauling fuel.
Oil slicks can cause you or someone else to lose control of their vehicle, which can result in a treacherous car crash.
5. Faulty Traffic Lights
If you’ve ever come across a traffic light that is not lit up at all, it is malfunctioning. Sometimes, a faulty traffic light will blink yellow or red as well. Power surges and outages are typical reasons for a traffic light malfunction.
Faulty traffic lights can cause car accidents because other motorists may not follow safe driving laws. For instance, if the light is off completely, motorists are supposed to come to a complete stop and proceed as they would for a four-way stop intersection.
Intersections are dangerous enough with proper functioning traffic lights. In 2020, 116,000 people were injured by drivers running red lights.
So, you should always proceed with caution, whether it’s a faulty traffic light or not.
Those pesky potholes along highways can cause damage to your car and even are the root of many car accidents every year. Out of the 33,000 traffic fatalities per year, a third are caused by poor road conditions.
Many of America’s major highways were built during the 1950s and 1970s and were made to last about fifty years.
These highways need to be properly maintained, which is why the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works passed the Surface Transportation Act of 2021. This bill will fund $303.5 billion over the next five years towards repairing highways, bridges, and roads.
Keep your eyes peeled for potholes because they are one of the most common hazards when driving.
7. Blind Curves
A blind curve makes it impossible for you to see around when you are driving. This is especially dangerous because there may be something in the road you can’t see, or perhaps a vehicle pulls out onto the highway. In some cases, there may be a stop sign that isn’t quite visible until it’s too late.
Whatever the case may be, take caution anytime you encounter a blind curve in the road.
8. Construction Work Zones
Reduced number of lanes, speeding drivers, and misplaced objects can cause accidents in construction zones. This article by route-fifty.com states that a study by a team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University found that crashes are likely to increase when the work zones are long, and traffic is heavier.
You can reduce the risk of having an accident by following the posted speed limit and paying attention to new traffic patterns and road workers.
9. Reckless Drivers
Fatalities caused by reckless drivers reached a 15-year high in 2021. There were 20,160 deaths from fatal car accidents in the first half of 2021. Reckless drivers are the deadliest driving hazards on the road. Texting while driving, speeding, and following too closely, among other bad driving practices, cause what could have been avoidable accidents.
Being a defensive driver can help you reduce your risk of being in a crash because you can use safe driving techniques to avoid roadway hazards such as reckless drivers.
10. Animals Crossing Roads
Sadly, there are an estimated 1-2 million wild-life vehicle collisions every year. Many accidents are caused by animals, such as deer leaping into the road and motorists not being able to stop or swerving to miss the animal and crashing because of it.
Night-time driving increases the chances of a wild-life vehicle collision. Lots of animals are very active at night or even at dawn and dusk.
Try to limit your driving during these times if possible, and always be alert and watch out for any animal that may potentially try to cross the road in front of you.
Roadway Hazards: Who is Liable?
No accident is the same. So depending on the cause and who was at fault determines who is liable for the damages you incur. For instance, if you are driving on the interstate and hit a pothole and crash because of it, you may think the state’s department of transportation is liable for the damages.
However, you have to prove that the state was aware of the pothole and neglected to fix it within a reasonable amount of time.
Now, if a reckless driver caused your accident, then you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against them. Again, it comes down to determining fault. Depending on which state you live in will determine how your damages will be calculated.
For example, if you live in a pure comparative negligence state, if you are found partially at fault, your settlement amount will be reduced on the percentage of fault determined. So, if you were 10% at fault, the amount you can recover will be reduced by 10% of the settlement.
If you live in a no-fault state such as Minnesota, then many instances fall under the no-fault act. This means that you are required to carry personal injury protection insurance to cover your medical costs and damages. However, if your costs exceed the coverage threshold, you may file a third-party claim.
That’s why you should seek legal counsel from an experienced personal injury attorney to assist you in your case.
Stay Safe and Watch Out for These Driving Hazards!
Remember to always be on the watch and avoid distractions while driving. By practicing safe driving techniques and watching out for these driving hazards, you can reduce the risk of being in an auto accident.
Have you recently been injured in an auto accident and are unsure what to do next? You may be entitled to additional compensation. Get the settlement you deserve with our help. Contact Hoglund Law for a free consultation today!