Trucks.com reports that the United States has more than three times as many traffic fatalities per capita than Sweden or the United Kingdom. In fact, the U.S. has nearly the highest number of traffic fatalities of any high-income nation. Why is this? Research suggests that improvements in roadway maintenance and infrastructure can reduce the number of traffic fatalities in America. If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident, consult with an experienced Laredo truck accident attorney as soon as possible. You have the right to be compensated for your injuries and losses.
The Infrastructure Changes That Are Needed
While there are many causes of car accidents, human error being the leading factor, the design and maintenance of roadways can significantly reduce the number of fatal collisions across America. In May 2017, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a report on the safety benefits of highway infrastructure improvements. The report identified six changes with the greatest potential to reduce both the likelihood and impact of traffic accidents. They include: (1) converting traditional intersections into roundabouts in order to reduce right-angle collisions; (2) improving roadsides by removing debris, installing barriers, and improving side slopes, (3) adding and improving pedestrian crossings; (4) expanding median barriers on divided highways; (5) installing rumble strips to alert drivers who leave their travel lane; and (6) widening and paving roadway shoulders to both offer safe refuge to stranded motorists and allow easier access for first responders.
The Hidden Costs of Poor Road Maintenance
The AAA report also examined the economic impact of car accidents in the United States. The economic impact of car accidents includes emergency services, medical care, court and legal costs, insurance administration, traffic congestion, lost wages, and property damage. This was estimated at $242 billion (1.6 percent of the country's entire annual Gross Domestic Product). Cities, counties, states, and other local governments can be sued for injuries sustained in traffic accidents caused by bad roadways. These lawsuits are paid by taxpayer funds which could be better spent making the roads safer for everyone. Furthermore, poor roadways structures cause accidents which must be covered by auto insurance carriers. Increased accident payouts lead to higher insurance premiums for all subscribers - not just those involved in the accident.
Of course, the costs of taxpayer-funded lawsuits and increased insurance premiums pales in comparison to the value of human life. Texas law (Section 71.001 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code) protects the right of surviving family members to sue for wrongful death when an accident victim succumbs to his or her injuries. The administrator of the estate can also sue for the victim's lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other financial losses. While such lawsuits can compensate the survivors for the loss of companionship, this is a poor substitute for the presence of a loved one. Worse still, many deaths could be prevented with investments in roadway maintenance. Instead, the funds are used to compensate survivors. After any truck accident, consult with an experienced Laredo truck accident attorney to learn about your legal rights against a state, county, or municipality which negligently failed to maintain roadway infrastructure.