North Carolina Investing $50 Million in Highway Safety
Better infrastructure will make roads safer for motorists
Thanks to a combination of growth of the population of the state and lower gas prices, North Carolina roads are under more strain than ever before - and a new government initiative promises to improve the infrastructure to bear that load.
Over the next year, the North Carolina DOT will complete work in 80 different locations spread across dozens of counties. The project will include warning signs, traffic lights, guardrails, left-turn lanes, crosswalks and roundabouts.
That's good news for North Carolina residents, particularly in rural and suburban areas where the roads are not designed for heavy traffic. Without proper maintenance in place, heavy traffic can lead to hazardous conditions such as potholes, which in turn can cause or contribute to serious accidents.
According to the DOT, the locations in need of work were identified through accident statistics as well as input from motorists.
Poor road conditions cause accidents, financial loss
Poor conditions are a leading cause of fatalities on North Carolina highways; indeed, at least one study claimed that inadequate infrastructure causes more than half of highway fatalities and over a third of non-fatal injuries. That same study named North Carolina as having one of the highest total costs from crashes involving deficient road conditions.
Crashes involving potholes, inadequate signage, malfunctioning traffic signals and other maintenance issues can be quite legally complex. Often, a government agency or municipality is responsible for maintaining the roads, in which case the government's immunity from litigation - which has some exceptions as established by North Carolina state law - comes into play. In other cases, a private contractor or construction company that completed some of the work may be liable for an accident.
Of course, when motorists fail to appropriately respond to changing road conditions, they may be held liable even if poor maintenance came into play as well. Remember that North Carolina is a contributory negligence state, which means it's impossible to recover damages for an accident in which you were injured if you were even partially at fault. For instance, if an accident involving a pothole was found to be largely due to the poor road conditions and also partially due to your own failure to avoid the hazard, you may be unable to sue for damages.
Fortunately, with the state investing more and more in infrastructure, crashes resulting from poor conditions should become less frequent. However, if you are hurt in such an accident, the legal complexities involved mean you'll definitely need an experienced advocate from our firm.