Illinois Is #5 in Car Crash Deaths Due to Bad Road Design

Illinois Is #5 in Car Crash Deaths Due to Bad Road DesignPoor road design often leads to car accidents and is cited as a leading cause of crashes in several states. As of January 22, 2024, Illinois has earned the title of the fifth worst place for car crash deaths related to bad road design. The research focused on data from the National Highway Travel Safety Administration.

Illinois was in fifth place with 0.96% of fatal accidents due to substandard roads, or 50 out of 5,183 fatal crashes. The report includes data from 2017 to 2021 and considers issues such as:

  • Lane narrowing
  • Traffic controls
  • Shoulder designs and conditions
  • Insufficient exit warnings
  • Pavement marking visibility
  • Bridge design
  • Surface wash out
  • Maintenance and construction

Crashes involving these factors were compared against all fatal car accidents.

Illinois graded C- on latest infrastructure report card

The most recent report card issued by the Illinois Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the state’s infrastructure a C- rating. The report, released in April 2022, noted that while improvements have been made, the state’s overall grade for transit and roads came in at a D+.

Here’s what that report said about our roads:

Illinois was the 26th ranked state in 2013 with an average [International Roughness Index] IRI of 125 and fell to 28th in the national ranking for 2019. Driving on roads in need of repair still costs Illinois motorists $5.4 billion a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs, or $628 per motorist.

IDOT also performs Condition Rating Surveys of the highway system and assesses the pavement condition annually on alternating halves of the state, except for the interstate system, which is reviewed every year in its entirety. Overall, for the year 2020, the state highway miles were rated as 26.4% Excellent, 24.9% Good, 30.1% Fair, and 18.6% Poor.

That only half of our roadways are in good or excellent condition should come as no surprise, but that doesn’t make it acceptable, either.

Old roads create hazards, but no one wants to spend the money to fix them

Some significant issues with older roads that can lead to fatalities include:

  • Narrow shoulders or sharp drop-offs which can result in rollovers
  • Dull or faded pavement markings, which are hazardous for pedestrians because drivers do not have clear boundaries
  • Crooked and winding roads, which create inadequate sightlines
  • Lack of guardrails, rumble strips, and inadequate boundary markers
  • Lack of streetlights, leading to poor visibility

Often, inadequate maintenance or poor road design is due to lack of funding. However, failing to maintain local roads creates a significant financial strain on communities. Although it is expensive to fix the roads, the more significant cost is the human lives lost annually due to poor road design and improper maintenance.

Another significant factor in poor road conditions is lack of government funding. If funds were allocated properly, roads would get the maintenance they need when needed. The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) says certain 3R projects–resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation–are particularly helpful and include the following improvements:

  • Pavement and joint repair
  • Changes to curves
  • Removing hazardous obstacles
  • Bridge repair
  • Widening lanes and shoulders

Poor road design a danger for motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists alike

Poor road design presents a danger to everyone who uses the roads, even pedestrians who utilize sidewalks and crosswalks correctly. Poor sight lines, dimly lit streets, sharp curves, potholes and other issues make driving, walking, or riding on the roads of Illinois dangerous for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. Victims of accidents caused by poor road design can suffer from any of the following injuries:

Can I sue for damages if road design caused my loved one’s death?

If poor road design caused your loved one’s fatal accident, you may be able to sue – but there’s a catch. Illinois protects its government employees from liability under the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act. This means that you might not be able to file a claim against one specific person, but the option to file against a government entity (Department of Public Works or Department of Transportation, for example) might still be on the table. That is why it is important to discuss the situation with a personal injury attorney. They will be able to examine the accident, how poor road design played into the crash, and determine if you can pursue a claim against the entity responsible for the design/maintenance of the road.

The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is two years from the date your loved one died. Those who can file a claim include the following:

  • Surviving children
  • Surviving spouse
  • Parents
  • Representatives of the decedent’s estate

While steps are being taken to reduce fatal accidents resulting from poor road conditions, there are still too many accidents. The Alton car crash attorneys at Glisson Law proudly serve Belleville, Edwardsville, Springfield, Madison, St. Clair Counties and all of Southwestern Illinois and Missouri. Schedule a free case evaluation by calling our office or submitting our contact form.