It is estimated that about half the auto accidents in the USA are caused by bad road conditions. While some might like to blame a car accident on driver negligence, especially if a truck is involved, the truth is, in many cases, poor roads are behind many of these traffic accidents.
Michael Bilokonsky of Fort Thomas, Kentucky, is the CEO and president of Whitehorse Freight. With immense passion and experience in the trucking and logistics industry, Michael founded his company for one reason, to provide no-nonsense freight solutions. The company is prepared to meet the demands of a fast-paced atmosphere. Whitehorse Freight puts the safety of drivers and cargo front and center. Road conditions and road safety are some of the challenges in the transportation industry that truck drivers need to understand fully.
Unsafe Road Conditions
When it comes to transportation, a truck driver cannot underestimate the condition of the road. Any flaw, no matter how small, can cause them to lose control of the truck and cause a traffic accident. In an ideal world, explains Michael Bilokonsky, all roads are well maintained and in good condition. The road signs and guardrails are where they should be and any changes in the road surfaces are duly announced. However, we don’t live in an ideal world, and unsafe road conditions have to be taken into account.
Some of these poor road conditions are man-made while others are caused by natural hazards. Since roads are exposed to the elements 24/7 not to mention the heavy traffic, erosion of the surface of the road is something that truck drivers need to be wary of. Here are some of the road conditions that drivers grapple with on a daily basis:
- Potholes: A very common problem of roads not just in cities but interstate freeways as well. Potholes are the first sign of surface erosion that the truck driver notices. Once the protective asphalt layer cracks and wears off, the dirt beneath it shifts, leaving a dangerous hole in the road. Drivers need to do their best to avoid such potholes while driving even at normal speed.
- Missing Road Signs: On a road where the traffic is heavy, it’s important to have road signs that guide drivers. This is especially true for complex road systems or unusual traffic patterns. Without these signs, truck drivers are left guessing. Road signs help drivers make informed decisions and stay under the speed limit.
- Undeclared Changes in the Road: The way Michael Bilokonsky sees it, road maintenance work and changes in the surface of the roads affect how the driver operates the vehicle. This is true of melting tar surfaces in the summer and concrete bridges that might freeze in the winter. Such hazards need to be announced well in advance.
- Missing Guardrails: Barriers and guardrails on busy roads prevent accidents. With vehicles traveling at high speed, the absence of these barriers combined with a distracted driver could be a recipe for a traffic disaster.
- Snow and Ice: A slippery road makes it hard for the truck driver not only to control the vehicle, but also to navigate the traffic and watch out for less-skilled drivers. Weather conditions are responsible for about 22% of road accidents.
- Faint Lines: The lines on the road help drivers stay on their lane, get familiar with the driving pattern on a certain part of the road, and ensure smooth and moving traffic. With time and the impact of the wheels, these lines tend to degrade and eventually become invisible. For a truck driver from out of state, this can be problematic.
Road Conditions and Accidents
No matter how skilled the truck driver is, Michael Bilokonsky says, there’s just so little they can do about poor road conditions. Just imagine you’re driving your truck down the freeway and some unexpected hazard forces you to swerve the vehicle to avoid it. These situations are quite common and when the truck driver loses control, any and all vehicles nearby are not safe.
Other times a distracted driver might put themselves along with other drivers on the road in danger. The same goes for unannounced hazards such as ice on the road or changes in the road conditions which might impact the handling of the vehicle. In addition, unsafe conditions put the drivers on edge and create chaotic situations that could result in traffic accidents.
Michael Bilokonsky on Safe Driving in All Road Conditions
According to Michael Bilokonsky, when poor road conditions lead to accidents, then more safety regulations and procedures need to be implemented. “Rather than assuming that the driver is always at fault,” he says, “more effort should go into making roads safer for driving to reduce accidents.”
Roads also require regular maintenance and work to keep them in good shape. At the same time, truck drivers need to follow the traffic rules and keep their eyes on the road at all times for their own safety and that of the other vehicles.