Some street types, like narrow rural roads, and situations, such as intersections, are especially challenging and are frequently the location of crashes. Accordingly, traffic safety engineers try to implement road design features to minimize these challenges that all too often result in car accidents * causing serious injury or death.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, it is crucial to enlist an experienced personal injury attorney immediately. A good accident lawyer will deal directly with the insurance companies, allowing you to focus on recovery.
There are a number of road engineering measures that are effective in reducing multi-vehicle accidents, collisions involving pedestrians or cyclists, and single vehicle crashes, including:
- Reduced-conflict intersections
- Cable median barriers
- Safety edges and enhanced edge lines
Minnesota’s existing 200 roundabouts have reduced fatal car crashes and serious injury crashes by approximately 86%, according to a Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) 2017 study. The primary reason is that a roundabout’s design encourages slower speeds. Typically, cars travel at about 15-20 miles per hour in the circle of the roundabout. As a result, those crashes that do occur are usually minor. In contrast with signalled intersections, drivers have no reason to speed up to attempt to “beat” the light. One-way traffic also means drivers don’t have to factor in traffic coming at them from multiple directions. The net result is that the possibility of T-bone and head-on collisions is nearly erased.
While roundabouts are very effective overall at reducing conflicts between vehicles, drivers need to familiarize themselves with them and use them properly. In one case we recently handled, our client was hit twice in succession and suffered permanent, disfiguring injuries. She faced hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost wages. It happened when two separate motorists drove into the roundabout without sufficiently reducing their speeds in icy winter conditions.
Reduced-conflict intersections, also called RCIs or “J-turns,” are becoming much more common in southeast Minnesota. They save lives by decreasing T-bone crashes on four-lane divided highways. Studies show a 70% drop in fatalities and a 42% decrease in serious injury crashes where RCIs are used, according to MnDOT. At an RCI, direct left turns and straight crossings from side roads onto divided highways are blocked. Drivers on side roads must turn right onto a divided highway and then make a U-turn where provided either to drive in the opposite direction or to cross the highway.
Cable median barriers are relatively inexpensive to install and repair, yet fatal crashes plunge by up to 95% where they’re installed, according to MnDOT, which credits the barriers with saving 80 lives in the state since they were first installed in 2004. The barriers are designed to flex and break, absorbing kinetic energy and directing a vehicle along the median, thus preventing cross-median crashes.
Road departure crashes cause more fatalities and serious injuries than any other type of crash. Enhanced edge lines and safety edges are two strategies aimed at reducing these types of accidents. Enhanced edge lines are wider and painted with highly reflective paint and help keep drivers on the road, even at night or when inclement weather imposes poor visibility. Two studies, one in Minnesota and one in Michigan, found that replacing 4-inch-wide edge lines with 6-inch-wide stripes reduced the number of crashes involving drivers running off the right side of the road by more than a third.
Safety edges come into play when a driver accidentally drifts off the roadway. Safety edges are 30-degree asphalt declines along the sides of roads that lack wide shoulders. They prevent a phenomenon called “tire scrubbing” when there’s a vertical drop off of more than a few inches. If a driver strays off the side of the road with vertical drop offs, it can be difficult to return to the roadway smoothly. “Tire scrubbing” can lead to the driver overcorrecting as he or she jerks the car back onto the road, suddenly ending up crossing in front of oncoming traffic or driving into the ditch on the far side of the road. Tapering the sides of the road significantly reduces “tire scrubbing.”
Suk Law Firm has focused exclusively on serving victims in personal injury and wrongful death cases since 1988. We have recovered more than $125 million on behalf of clients. We are ready to assist you. Contact us today.
Besides Rochester, we serve the following major southeast Minnesota cities: Red Wing, Winona, Mankato, Austin, Albert Lea, and Owatonna, and all outlying communities, as well as the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Bloomington. We also serve the Iowa cities of Mason City, Charles City, Osage, Spencer, Garner, Forest City, and Northwood and the Wisconsin cities of La Crosse, Onalaska, Sparta, Viroqua, River Falls, Ellsworth, Whitehall, and Black River Falls.
*A note about language:
Federal agencies involved in traffic safety have banned use of the word “accident” for more than 20 years, and with good reason. However, we use the word “accident” on our website, even though we know it has implications that run contrary to our professional thinking and training, because we recognize that “accident” is the word most commonly used in online searches when people are looking for help after being injured in a crash. If you’d like more information about this topic, please see our blog, “Car Accident or Car Crash?”