Roadways and Traffic Operations: Road Design

As the safety of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians is crucial for minimizing the likelihood of a claim, factors such as widths, slopes, embankments, shoulder drop-offs, and the proximity of objects like trees, must all be considered when designing roads.

Each jurisdiction has roadway design guidelines for engineers who design and re-design roads. These guidelines cover such components as:

● potential for head-on collisions;
● lane width;
● speed limits;
● "drop-off" heights at the edge of pavement;
● shoulder widths;
● placement of guardrails; and
● signs.

Once design criteria are set, the construction process must be monitored closely to ensure that work is performed as per specifications. After completion, road maintenance crews will be responsible for routine inspection and maintenance to prevent deterioration below the jurisdiction's guidelines.

Roadside fixtures also affect motorist safety. Roadside barriers/guardrails are intended to protect motorists from hazards such as trees, fences, utility poles, steep slopes and water bodies. Barriers are warranted when the effect of hitting a barrier is considered less than the risk of not having one.

In some situations, a guardrail may be added in an area that would appear low risk. This may be due to a history of accidents in that area.
Lawsuits involving motor vehicle accidents generally allege negligent design or construction, negligent maintenance or repair and/or failure to provide adequate warning signs.

Whenever there is an accident involving serious injury or loss of life, the police will have a detailed investigation report. This report is helpful in detailing conditions at the scene immediately following the accident.

When claims are reported later there may be a significant loss of vital evidence. It is therefore crucial that municipal defendants know what to look for and how to present evidence at a trial.

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