California has a reputation for many things: sunshine year-round, health food, and nightmarish driving conditions. While the concentrated population in certain cities leads to an increased number of drivers on the road, this is not the only reason for the high traffic collision rate in our state. Two other major causes add up to California’s road issues: poor highway design and deficient road quality.
Poor Design and Traffic Management
Traffic in California is par for the course. It is no accident that The Huffington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and USA Today have all reported that California cities host the worst traffic delays in the country. Of the top ten cities with the worst traffic, California is home to four. It is not just the number of drivers on the road causing accidents, however. Otherwise safe drivers can be vulnerable to collisions as a result of poor highway design, blind spots, sharp curves, and confusing lane configurations.
I-10, I-40, and I-15 in San Bernardino County were included in a list of the ten worst highways in California, thanks to a high number of fatalities, sharp curves, and heavy traffic from frequent commuter usage. I-8 in San Diego ranked the twelfth most dangerous highway in the U.S. due to its narrow, uneven lanes combined with heavy traffic and substantial usage by commercial trucks. Fox News agreed that four of the top ten most dangerous roads, including the top two, were in California, including I-15 and I-10. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported that a TIGER grant was given to a 2-mile stretch of highway in Los Angeles County because of its congestion, dangerous lane design, and complicated freeway entrances. The highway was ranked number one in California and number eight in the country for delays and truck accidents.
City roads get a bad rap, but country roads can be even worse. Highway 62, in particular, has a bad reputation as a “death trap.” The Desert Sun describes the roadway as three times as deadly as the average California road for several reasons that make rural and desert roads more dangerous than congested city highways: a wide expanse of unlit roads, high or varying speed limits, and narrow lanes with no median separation. On an empty highway with few, if any, lights and narrow shoulders typically comprising only a small dirt or sand bar, there is no room for even the smallest of mistakes.
Congestion and dangerous highway structures are major causes of the high number of traffic accidents and fatalities, but poor road conditions also contribute.
According to the Washington Post, 51 percent of California roads are rated as “poor.” These roads contain potholes, cracks, and other imperfections that cannot be resurfaced; rather, these roads require a full rebuild. Such imperfections cost California drivers an extra $762 in operation and maintenance costs per year for the decreased gas mileage associated with driving on poor quality roads and repairing tires or other damaged vehicle components. Similarly, Business Insider reported that 68 percent of California roads are in poor/mediocre condition, while 6,953 bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Additionally, TripNet reports that San Bernardino County/Riverside is number fourteen in a ranking of urban areas with streets in poor condition, which costs drivers an additional $812 per year in vehicle costs. These road imperfections can also contribute to accidents from swerving or hard braking to avoid them, costing drivers even more.
When an Accident Happens
Getting legal help is imperative if you have been injured in an auto accident. Call our experienced San Diego auto accident attorneys at The Sargent Firm Injury Lawyers for a free consultation to discuss your case.