Infrastructure Week: How Roads Can Lead to Accidents

When a pedestrian bridge collapsed in Miami earlier this year, it raised some frightening questions. How common are bridge collapses and other roadway accidents involving everyday infrastructure? What happens when something that is supposed to make the roads safer ends up causing harm?

Since it’s Infrastructure Week, it’s a great time to look at the role that basic structures play in our everyday lives—and what can happen when these structures are negligently or poorly constructed or maintained.

What is Infrastructure?

Infrastructure is the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed for the operation of a society or enterprise. This includes:

  • The healthcare system
  • Law enforcement
  • Roads, highways, and bridges
  • Oil rigs and refineries
  • Telecommunication systems

While we enjoy the benefits of living in a modern society, most people don’t spend much time thinking about the infrastructure that helps us achieve this.  That’s why Infrastructure Week aims to “educate America’s public about the importance of infrastructure to the nation’s economy, workers, and communities.”

It’s the perfect time to thank the workers and organizations that build, maintain, and support our nation’s infrastructure. Still, infrastructure is not always perfect. It can be affected by human error or stalled by political or budgeting issues. It can also simply be influenced by outside factors, like a severe storm that impacts a communications system. Since infrastructure plays such an important role in everyday life, even a small error or issue can have massive consequences. This is especially true when roadway infrastructure is involved.

Roadway Hazards

The Miami bridge collapse is a tragic example of how an infrastructure-related accident can have a deadly effect on a community. The pedestrian bridge, which was located near the campus of Florida International University (FIU) with the intention of helping students safely cross the busy streets of Miami, was still under construction when it collapsed on March 15th, killing six people.

Thankfully, tragedies like the FIU bridge collapse are rare. However, bridges aren’t the only roadway hazards that can lead to traffic accidents.

  • Potholes
  • Faded or missing road markers, like line markers or turn arrows
  • Debris, like downed trees after a hurricane
  • Uneven pavement
  • Poor drainage
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Missing or broken guardrails
  • Erosion

When a driver comes into contact with these kinds of roadway hazards, it could cause an accident. For example, a pothole in the road could cause a car to spin out of control, leading to a collision with another vehicle or a nearby object. Oftentimes, accidents involving negligently maintained infrastructure are single-vehicle crashes.

Liability for Roadway Maintenance Negligence

Roads maintenance may be the responsibility of cities, counties, or the state. This makes it difficult to determine who is responsible for an accident. One agency might be responsible for some areas of maintenance, while another might be responsible for another area of the same road.

To hold an agency responsible, it must be shown that they were negligent. This means that they knew, or should have known, about the dangerous condition. For example, if a state agency fails to address a missing guardrail, they would likely be negligence. On the other hand, if a piece of debris suddenly blows into a driver’s path, it would be difficult to hold someone liable.

During Infrastructure Week, pay extra attention to the roads and the other common things that help your life run so smoothly—not just because of the potential dangers, but because of the hard work that goes into building and maintaining the roads, facilities, and systems that get us through the day.

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The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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