In our beautiful state of Washington, there are large interstate highways that stretch from Spokane to Seattle. They’re often full of those large semi-trucks, so passing and merging can be dangerous. But while the highways and major roads come with certain risks from semi-truck drivers, it may be surprising to hear that rural roads present more hazardous situations than paved ones.
Though there may be more drivers crowding the interstate, rural roads have fewer roadside safety barriers, riskier drivers, poor cellphone reception, and unique and dangerous terrain to navigate. Semi-trucks are large and heavy, and maneuvering them on such inconsistent road types (paved, dirt, gravel) is difficult. When driving on these country roads, we should take every precaution we can, and minimize distractions so that all of our attention can be on the road, and on those large and unwieldy trucks that may share that road with us.
5 reasons why rural roads and semi-trucks do not mix
There are many reasons why rural roads present more risks than highways, especially when it comes to semi-trucks. On highways there are steady speed limits, mostly straight roads, and even, paved roads. Five reasons why rural roads are more dangerous than main streets and freeways include:
- Lack of safety barriers. Highways and main roads in cities and high populated areas often have the resources and funding available to spend on infrastructure. On those roads you’ll see many more instances of safety barriers which are used to stop out of control vehicles. In less populated areas where there are more instances of rural roads, the community is less likely to have the funding available to pay for safety structures or maintenance. Because of this, there are likely to be fewer safety barriers to keep drivers from rocketing off sloped turns, or crashing into forested areas. With semi-trucks included, you may run off the road or have to make an emergency turn in order to avoid collision with a truck, and it is possible that you will not have any barrier to keep you from careening off the road.
- Varied road surface. While rural roads may be less traveled by the general population, more of the people in those areas will use those country roads as their main route of everyday travel. This means that maintenance for these roads is critical, but in many cases – due to the formerly mentioned poor funding – the roads are neglected and many deep potholes may develop, shoulders may deteriorate, and roads that aren’t paved and that are made of dirt or gravel can be washed away. As you can imagine, roads like this are not only dangerous for the average sedan or motorcycle to travel, but even more so for semi-trucks. When large trucks have to navigate such poor roads, it only makes them even more dangerous to the drivers around them.
- Increased chances of surprise hazards. When you are driving on highways, you are more likely to be able to see far in front of you. Animals darting out into the road are less likely, and falling trees or branches are rare to block drivers, and if they do, they are quickly removed by the Department of Transportation. On rural roads, there are no such guarantees. Since rural roads are more likely to be among nature and are quieter than busy interstates, animals are more likely to try and cross over to the other side. The often curvy and hilly roads mean that drivers cannot often see possible hazards on the road in front of them before it’s too late. If you are stopped in the road due to some unseen hazard, a truck barreling down the road behind will be unlikely to stop in time to keep from crashing into you, and very possibly causing you catastrophic injuries.
- More rogue drivers. Because rural roads are less policed, and there are fewer conveniences such as rideshare services (such as Uber), drivers are more likely to drive recklessly. They may engage in dangerous and illegal actions such as driving drunk, driving distracted, speeding, and fatigued driving. One major problem semi-truck drivers experience is fatigued driving as they often work long hours. A fatigued semi-truck driver on a rural road is a recipe for disaster, where there may be other risky drivers navigating the hazardous roads as well.
- The effect of the elements and weather. While better kept roadways such as major highways and interstates are well kept, meaning they see plowing and salting often when the weather is cold and snowy; rural roads are less likely to see such upkeep during inclement weather. This means that already probably treacherous roads become even moreso. Trucks already have a difficult time stopping in a timely fashion, and with no barriers separating one side of the road from oncoming traffic, semi-trucks may easily turn into a speeding, out of control metal wall coming toward you around a curve.
Collected data of semi-truck accidents show that over half of fatal semi-truck crashes happened on rural roads. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, “40 percent of county roads are inadequate for current travel.” Not only does this demonstrate the need for better maintenance for rural roads, but also the need for truck-drivers to be better trained for the hazards and conditions they will face on country roads.
Semi-trucks on rural roads are not only dangerous to the other vehicles around them, but also to bicyclists and pedestrians. Perhaps you’re taking a ride through a forest or hilly area. Or maybe you’re moving your livestock across the road. You could simply be out walking your dog. If a truck comes careening around the corner, you may very well suffer severe injuries, and there is a high probability that you or a loved one may be the victim of a wrongful death.
If you have been in an accident with a semi-truck on a rural road, and you believe that it was due to the negligence of the truck driver, then you deserve compensation for any damage done to your property, and any injuries you will have likely suffered. You have suffered enough, so let us ensure that you receive all that you need to pay for your hospital bills, lost income, and any other losses. To schedule a free consultation with a truck accident lawyer from Telaré Law, call us at 509-737-8500 or use our contact page. If we don’t win, you don’t pay. Our offices are located in Kennewick and Richland, and we proudly serve the communities of Pasco, Walla Walla, the Tri-Cities, and all of Southeast Washington.