Auto and Road User Journal
Auto and Road User Journal
March 6, 1998
TranSafety, Inc.
1-800-777-2338
(U.S. and Canada)
(360) 683-6276
Fax: (360) 335-6402
transafety@live.com

ROADSIDE HAZARDS

(This article is reproduced from the website of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.)

Chart/Tables

About a third of motor vehicle deaths involve vehicles leaving the roadway and hitting fixed objects such as trees or utility poles alongside the road. Almost all such crashes involve only 1 vehicle. Roadside hazard crashes occur in both urban and rural areas but are mostly a problem on rural roads. They're most likely to occur on curves and/or downhill road sections. More than a third involve a vehicle that rolls over, and about a third involve occupant ejection. Trees are by far the most common objects struck in roadside hazard crashes.

Alcohol is a frequent contributing factor in these crashes. Motorists also run off the road because of excessive speed, alcohol impairment, fatigue, or inattention. Efforts to reduce these driver errors are only somewhat effective, so it's important to shield or remove stationary objects or avoid putting them along roads in the first place, especially roads where vehicles are more likely to leave the pavement.

The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System:

  • 11,859 people died in roadside hazard crashes in 1996, down 1 percent from 1995 and about 8 percent more than in 1975.
  • The proportion of motor vehicle deaths involving roadside hazards has remained between 28 and 30 percent since 1979.
  • Forty-eight percent of drivers killed in roadside hazard crashes in 1996 had blood alcohol concentrations at or above 0.10 percent.
  • Drivers of 45 percent of the vehicles in fatal roadside hazard crashes in 1996 were men younger than 35.

Crash Types

  • Ninety-seven percent of roadside hazard crash deaths in 1996 occurred in single-vehicle crashes.
  • Thirty-nine percent of deaths in roadside hazard crashes in 1996 involved vehicles rolling over.
  • Thirty-one percent of deaths in roadside hazard crashes in 1996 involved occupant ejections.
  • Two-thirds of deaths in roadside hazard crashes in 1996 occurred in frontal impacts.

Objects Struck

  • Trees are the most common hazard. Twenty-seven percent of deaths in roadside hazard crashes in 1996 involved a vehicle striking a tree.
  • Embankments are the next most common hazard, accounting for about 11 percent of deaths in roadside hazard crashes in 1996.

Road Types

  • Fifty percent of deaths in roadside hazard crashes in 1996 occurred on major roads, 33 percent occurred on minor roads, and 17 percent occurred on freeways in-cluding interstates.
  • Sixty-three percent of deaths in roadside hazard crashes in 1996 occurred on rural roads.
  • Forty-two percent of deaths in roadside hazard crashes in 1996 occurred on curves.
  • Eighteen percent of deaths in roadside hazard crashes in 1996 occurred on wet or slippery roads.
  • Fifty-five percent of deaths in roadside hazard crashes in 1996 occurred on roads with speed limits 55 mph or faster.


 

 



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