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Highway Drop-Off Accidents Are Particularly Hazardous

August 02, 2012

Most of us have had the experience of driving along down a road and feeling a sudden jolt to our vehicle as it drops of the edge of the roadway because the pavement or roadway is uneven.

While it may not occur to you how dangerous uneven pavement or a roadway drop-off can be, the Federal Highway Administration reports that 11,000 people per year suffer injuries in auto accidents caused by uneven pavement or roadways with an unsafe drop-off. This unsafe road condition not only results in a significant number of accidents, but the resulting accidents tend to involve catastrophic injuries and fatalities. Often a roadway drop-off accident results in a driver losing control of the vehicle while steering hard in the opposite direction causing the vehicle to rollover or crash into another vehicle.

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS), 53 percent of all accidents involve roadway departure accidents, which account for almost 19,000 fatalities per year. The data also reflects that roadway drop-off accidents are 2-3 times more likely to result in a fatality. While over-steering hard in the opposite direction is often an instinctive reaction when a vehicle drops off the edge of the pavement, it may involve an unmanageable angle causing a driver to lose control of the vehicle.

Studies have shown that a drop-off of two inches or less may result in a motorist losing control. However, a safely constructed roadway can prevent many of these dangerous accidents. If the pavement at the edge of the road is shaped at a thirty-degree angle, the hazard posed by vertical drop-off is substantially reduced. When the pavement is shaped at this type of angle, it is safer for drivers who are trying to steer back onto the roadway. This type of safety edge on the pavement also improves the density of the pavement, which prevents hazards created by deterioration of the edge of the roadway. The installation of guardrails can also help reduce highway drop-off accidents.

Public entities have an obligation to design safe roads and highways. This includes taking reasonable precautions to reduce the risk of road drop-off accidents. If a public entity designs and/or constructs a road or highway that is unsafe or fails to adequately maintain the road in safe condition, the public entity may be liable for injuries and loss that result from a road drop-off accident. Sometimes a pavement drop-off accident is the product of deterioration from age and weather. If the condition has been present long enough or the public entity had knowledge of the road defect, the public entity may be liable for injuries or fatalities caused by road or highway defects like an unsafe pavement drop-off.

If you or a close family member is injured in a road drop-off accident, our pavement drop-off accident attorneys have been representing Georgia accident victims for over 39 years. Our Atlanta highway accident lawyers are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

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All information provided by our blogs is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Consult a Montlick attorney for details about your unique situation.

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