An investigative report into damaged roads in need of repair found something that some drivers might have suspected for some time: The city simply doesn’t consider many smaller projects a priority, and so it allows unsafe road conditions to exist for long periods of time—sometimes for years. The problem isn’t willful neglect in most cases but is simply a backlog of repairs that’s too much for the current roadwork budget to handle.

Motorists and residents are forced to live with problems on their local streets which become so serious over time that they not only present a risk of damage to vehicles that pass through, but the danger can also rise to the level of causing car crashes.

Poorly Maintained Roads Are a Hazard

When road maintenance isn’t kept up, it begins to become a problem for those who use the road. Many people are familiar with the long-standing problem of bridge maintenance in the United States. The American Society of Civil Engineers reports that nationally one in nine bridges is “structurally deficient” and that bridge maintenance is underfunded by $8 billion dollars every year. In 2014, Indiana was rated in the middle of the pack, with 22 percent of our 18,000 bridges rated as deficient or obsolete and with close to one hundred of them in need of immediate attention.

Bridges get a lot of attention, but the roads themselves can’t be ignored. This spring, large potholes were reported to be causing trouble for vehicles around Indianapolis both on major highways and city streets. Only flat tires and minor damages were reported in those cases, but when drivers encounter unexpected road damage, it sometimes leads to accidents. Just this year, serious multi-vehicle crashes have been caused by drivers striking (or avoiding) potholes in Arkansas, New Jersey, Texas, and Washington, DC. In the most recent crash we’ve seen reported, a motorcyclist and his passenger were injured in Pennsylvania when the driver couldn’t avoid a pothole and lost control.

Careless Driving Not an Excuse

When poor road conditions, such as unrepaired potholes, cause vehicle damage, drivers can file a claim with the government agency responsible for maintaining the road, although the chance of recovering damages isn’t very good. But if a driver crashes into you and blames poor road conditions, that’s not a good excuse to explain away the crash.

Drivers are always expected to exercise caution, and when they encounter dangerous roads, they need to act responsibly, which might mean reducing speed to maintain control or safely changing lanes before driving into a pothole or other hazard. The city might, in some cases, be found negligent for not fixing a known road problem quickly enough, but drivers are responsible for the safe operation of their own vehicles.

Indianapolis Car Crash Attorneys

There are many, many causes of auto and truck accidents, but study after study shows that there is one critical factor in almost every crash: the driver. Human error, whether the result of distracted driving, operating under the influence, driving at unsafe speeds, or outright reckless or negligent operation, has been found to be at the root of between 90 and 99 percent of all so-called motor vehicle “accidents.”

At Wilson Kehoe Winingham, we understand the many complex issues that need to be accounted for when pursuing an automobile accident claim. Give us a call today at 317-920-6400 or contact us online to schedule a free discussion of your particular case.

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