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6 Reasons Interstate Accidents Are Worse than Accidents on Local Roads

— August 23, 2019

Higher speeds, distracted driving, poor lighting… these are just some of the reasons interstate accidents are more dangerous than those on local roads.

Incidents of road accidents with severe injuries or even death are more common on interstates than they are on local roads. Interstate road accidents will often result in higher settlements or jury awards because there are more frequently wrongful death claims that are a part of the lawsuit. There are a number of risk factors present when driving on an interstate that are either more pronounced on the highway or are not present on the roads. If you have been in an interstate accident, contact a car accident lawyer to discuss your options for a car accident lawsuit. Below are some of the reasons why highway accidents may be more serious than accidents on local roads. 

Logo of Law Office of Steve Roberts; image courtesy of Law Office of Steve Roberts.
Logo of Law Office of Steve Roberts; image courtesy of Law Office of Steve Roberts.

Higher Speeds

The laws of physics dictate that accidents that are at higher speeds will result in greater impact and a higher likelihood of severe injury. Cars are often not only traveling at high speed because the speed limit is higher, but there is a good chance that drivers will be speeding on the interstate since there is less traffic. Higher speeds may also mean that a driver has a great chance of losing control of their car on an interstate. Single vehicle crashes account for 55 percent of the fatalities in road accidents, and there is a greater risk of this when a driver is traveling at a high speed. Drivers can experience rollovers when they are speeding excessively, and interstates are more conducive to traveling at this speed. Moreover, multi-car accidents tend to also have more significant injury and damages because drivers cannot stop in time and may end up with front and back impact.

Work Zones

Work zones on highways present different challenges for drivers than they would when there is construction on a local road. When driving on an interstate, a work zone will mean that drivers will have to slow down to travel through the zone. However, many drivers fail to observe the posted speed limits in the work zone. Combine that with the facts that there are trucks driving through the work zone in narrower lanes, and there is more danger there for drivers. When going through a work zone, drivers may have to stop or swerve to avoid object on the road or in close proximity to it. There may also be equipment on the side of the road or uneven terrain that heightens the risk that a driver may collide with another vehicle or lose control over their car.

The Presence of Trucks

It is an unfortunate fact that when drivers have interstate truck accidents, there is a greater likelihood of a significant or fatal injury. The sheer weight and size of the trucks means that there are slim odds of walking away from an accident with them. The interstates serve as the backbone for the economy since most goods moved in the United States travel over them. For drivers, that is a risk since truck drivers may not be able to see the other vehicles on the road, especially those in their blind spots. When driving on the interstate, motorists have no idea if the truck driver in the lane next to them has adequate training to safely operate their vehicle. All it takes is one poorly trained truck driver to create dangerous conditions.

More Drowsy Drivers

When one falls asleep behind the wheel, one of the greatest risks is that their car will go off the road or cross the center lane. These are the accidents with the highest rates of fatality. Interstates have long stretches of highway, and sometimes there is not much variation in the road. Oftentimes, motorists are traveling on the interstate at night since there are fewer trucks and less traffic. However, when they are driving after dark on a long and possibly isolated road, they run the risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. Sometimes, drivers can either avoid an accident or mitigate it by taking evasive or defensive action. However, when drivers are either asleep or simply not alert, there will be a higher chance of a significant accident at high speed since their reflexes will either be nonexistent or slow.

Less Roadway Lighting

Sometimes, accidents are caused by the fact that there is a hazard in the roadway that a driver cannot see to avoid. This will then result in an accident at a high speed, which can lead to injury. Interstates are less likely to be lit outside of urban areas. Motorists often have difficulty seeing on these roads at night since there is not as much light on isolated stretches of the road. Many drivers have difficulty seeing on the interstate on any night, but it is even worse when it is raining and motorists’ visibility is even further reduced. While other vehicles may have their lights on and can be seen, there could be curves or debris in the road that a driver cannot see.

Driver using smartphone behind the wheel; image by Alexandre Boucher, via
Driver using smartphone behind the wheel; image by Alexandre Boucher, via

Distracted Drivers

Texting while driving or engaging in other forms of activity on one’s mobile device has heightened the risk for serious accidents. The risk from these accidents leaves drivers vulnerable to either swerving into the path of another car or rear-ending the car in front of them. This danger is even more pronounced when driving on the interstate since motorists may feel like they have more of an opportunity to check their device when driving a long stretch. Distracted driving is a factor in many fatal crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving claimed over 3,000 lives in 2017. Drivers on the interstate are likely to be driving a long distance and mistakenly feel like they cannot be out of touch for an extended period.

When an interstate accident causes injury or damage, a highway accident lawyer can help those injured and their families file a lawsuit to advance the process of receiving compensation for any harm experienced. In general, motorists must drive defensively on interstates to keep themselves as safe as possible notwithstanding the actions of other drivers. 

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