Dangerous and Unsafe Road Conditions in Washington

When most people think of vehicle accidents, they think of the negligence of one or more drivers causing the incident. However, there are also times when dangerous and unsafe road conditions lead to devastating crashes. Here, we want to talk about some of the roadway conditions that can cause severe car accidents throughout Washington

Crashes Caused by Dangerous Roadway Collisions

During the latest reporting year of data available from the Washington Department of Transportation, we can see that there were more than 86,000 total vehicle collisions. However, we do want to point out that this number was significantly lower than in previous years, likely due to less traffic throughout much of the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many of these crashes were caused by dangerous and unsafe roadway collisions. Even when a collision is not caused by the careless or negligent actions of a driver, those inside of a vehicle can still sustain severe injuries. A crash caused by a dangerous or unsafe roadway condition can lead to drivers taking evasive action to avoid a collision, which can, unfortunately, lead to crashes with other vehicles, stationary objects, or even cause deadly vehicle rollovers.

Top Dangerous and Unsafe Roadway Collisions in Washington

Roadways can become dangerous and unsafe in a variety of ways. However, when we aggregate all of the unsafe roadway condition accident causes, we see some commonalities:

  1. Potholes. Roads that are not regularly maintained often develop potholes, and this can create incredibly dangerous driving situations. Potholes can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicle and lead to an accident.
  2. Missing barriers and guardrails. Many roads throughout Washington, particularly those in urban areas, have guardrails to accommodate high-speed traffic and to keep drivers from traveling off of the roadway. If guardrails are missing, this can lead to severe high-speed accidents.
  3. Missing road signs. Drivers rely on road signs. This includes stop signs, yield signs, directional traffic signs, intersection warning signs, speed limits, etc. If the appropriate signs are missing, it can create dangerous situations for drivers who may become confused.
  4. Confusing road signs. Road signs should be uniform so that drivers understand what they mean (including international travelers). Additionally, road signs located close to one another should not be contradictory because confused drivers will inevitably cause vehicle accidents.
  5. Unannounced road surface changes. Not all road services are the same, and there are times when different materials are used for different purposes. For example, highways may have different road surfaces than overpasses or tunnels and bridges. When the road surface changes, drivers should be warned with a sign to let them know of the change. Road surfaces react differently depending on weather and water conditions. Drivers need to be able to adjust appropriately.
  6. Poorly painted lines. Roadways are designed to accommodate plenty of traffic and different traffic patterns. It is imperative that roads have highly visible lines that make sense for drivers. If lines are not present or are faded, this can lead to confusion for drivers.
  7. Shoulder drop-offs. The area between the lane of traffic and the side of the road is called the shoulder. In general, shoulders should be paved at pretty much the same level as the rest of the road. However, if the shoulder drops more than a few inches below the road surface, this can lead to severe accidents if a vehicle’s wheels veer even slightly.