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Common Causes of Car Accidents: Poor Roadway Maintenance (Part III)

On Behalf of | Sep 12, 2011 | Personal Injury

This post is the third in a series of posts on the four most common factors that contribute to motor vehicle accidents.

While poorly designed roads may be a contributing factor in car accidents, poor upkeep of well-designed roads can also cause motor vehicle accidents.

Depending on where you are at, different agencies are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of roads. Local municipalities are typically response for roads in town, county agencies may be responsible for county highways, a state department of transportation is often in charge of state thruways and federal agencies often have oversight to interstate freeways. Each agency has its own maintenance schedules and upkeep procedures, so roadway conditions will vary largely depending on where you are currently travelling.

While no nationwide upkeep standards exist, there are a number of common issues road maintenance drivers can be aware of:

  • Debris. Local highway departments are usually in charge of clearing road debris, but often may not know that a blown tire or lost hubcap remains in the road until motorists report it. An improperly loaded truck ahead of you on the road may lose part of its load right in front of you. Always be aware of your surroundings.
  • Lost or obscured signage. Road signs may fade, fall down in high winds or trees may grow to cover them. If you are aware of any missing or hard-to-see signs in your area, report the problem to your local police department.
  • Potholes. The heat of summer and the cold of winter often causes pavement to expand and contract, leading to unexpected bumps or potholes in the road. Hitting a pothole or bump can cause tire failure or suspension failure. If you notice any particularly dangerous holes or bumps, contact the local police department — some even have pothole complaint lines set up.
  • Roadway construction. While actual construction may affect the physical road surface, it also usually impacts traffic. Drivers unwilling to merge or slow in road work areas often cause accidents. Stay alert to potential dangers found in stop-and-go traffic and be aware of vehicles that do not appear to be driving at a prudent speed through a work area.
  • Salting & sanding. Icy winter conditions bring the need for the salting and sanding of roadways. In cold weather, salt is ineffective and sometimes poor weather conditions make it difficult for sand trucks to make it onto the roads. Either way, take extra care in driving in icy and snowy conditions and remember that even a recently salted or sanded road cannot stop a car that is driving too fast in poor weather conditions.

To learn more about driving safety tips and common causes of car accidents, read our upcoming blog on how driver behavior contributes to motor vehicle accidents.

Source:, “What Causes Car Accidents?