Poorly maintained roads and other unsafe road conditions can surprise drivers and lead to car accidents that can be fatal for you or the ones you love. In many cases, unsafe road conditions cannot be anticipated when planning your next trip in a car, so it is essential to stay vigilant. 

Understanding the role of road and weather conditions could mean the difference between life and death when operating your vehicle. To learn more and be prepared the next time you take the road, continue reading about these hazards and how to protect yourself from them.

Hazardous road conditions can lead to an accident for even the most careful drivers. For example, an unexpected hazard might cause drivers to lose control of their vehicle or become confused about the traffic pattern. These circumstances could also cause vehicle damage that might lead to a traffic collision. 

Types of Unsafe Road Conditions

Sometimes it is difficult to recognize unsafe road conditions until you find yourself driving in or on them. There are several types of unsafe conditions that might cause car accidents to happen, and some you may not have thought of.

Here are a few of the most common occurrences as outlined by Safe Roads USA:


Have you ever hit a pothole with a full cup in your hand? Potholes pose problems to more than just your outfit when the cup spills, though. Hitting the edges of a pothole can damage your tires, wheels, alignment, suspension, and steering. 

Missing Barriers or Guardrails

Barriers and guardrails are used to keep cars on the road and separate traffic that is traveling in different directions, so when these are missing, the chance of a severe head-on collision is much greater. 

Missing or Confusing Road Signs

If the conditions of a road are somewhat confusing or don’t follow the usual guidelines, road signs can help advise drivers on how to safely navigate the circumstances. If these critical signs are missing or cause confusion, drivers can’t make informed decisions and can possibly cause a dangerous situation without meaning to. 

Faint or Poorly Painted Lines

Similar to road signs, the painted lines on the road are crucial to directing drivers on the road. These lines can fade over time depending on the weather, climate, and traffic conditions of a road. Sometimes circumstances such as construction or large events require lines to be repainted, and this can cause some confusion that can lead to accidents. 

Uncleared Ice Patches and Snow

According to the US Department of Transportation, 11 percent of fatal car accidents in the US are a result of weather conditions such as ice and snow. 

There are many times when the ice on the road is not visible to drivers and can make it almost impossible to maintain control if the vehicle starts to slip and slide across the road. Always remember to slow down when the weather conditions are poor, even after a storm is over. 

Unexpected Changes in Road Surfaces

Vehicles perform and feel different when driving over the cement of a highway overpass versus the pavement of a residential road. Additionally, weather conditions can impact the different road surfaces in different ways. Rain or ice can make the transitions between different road surfaces more dangerous and difficult to maneuver, so it’s important to slow down if possible if you see a change coming. 

Shoulder Drop-Off

The shoulder of the road is the space between the lane of traffic and the side of the road. It is usually paved at the same height as the road but sometimes drops off abruptly near where the lane ends. When this happens, it is difficult to pull off on the side of the road if needed and can cause additional damage to your car. 

Poor Road Design

Sharp turns with blind corners, steep inclines, and other poor road designs can make driving more difficult and increase the risk of an accident because of unseen dangers or the inability to maintain control of your vehicle.

How to Protect Yourself from Unsafe Road Conditions

Although a lack of signage or dangerous roads is not the driver’s fault, it’s essential to be vigilant about safety while behind the wheel. Avoiding distractions is the first step to staying aware. If you are using the utmost caution when traveling, you will have the ability to react when faced with unexpected danger. Here are a few more tips to help you prioritize safety on the road:

  • Avoid speeding and aggressive behaviors
  • Pay attention to the other drivers around you
  • Stay alert and avoid distractions at all times
  • Slow down when approaching construction zones or uncomfortable driving conditions
  • Leave a safe following distance between you and the car in front
  • Slow down during inclement weather

Who Is Responsible for Unsafe Roads?

If you are involved in an accident caused by poorly maintained roads, you are probably wondering who is ultimately responsible for the damages. Utah, in particular, is a hotspot for these types of roads. According to a study done by USA Today in 2020, Utah is the 17th highest state for roadways in poor condition at 25.3 percent.

The responsibility for these roads falls on different governing bodies, from the federal government to state and city governments. Private organizations even own some streets. 

These governing bodies are responsible for providing safe roads for travelers, so they must fix the problem if they know about unsafe conditions. Failure to address a hazardous situation can result in being financially liable for any harm that occurs.

Get Help with Flickinger Boulton Gooch & Robson

If you have been involved in an accident due to poor road conditions, it is imperative to have the professional attorneys at Flickinger Boulton Gooch & Robson on your side. We will determine who is legally responsible for any damages and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

Our offices are located in Provo and West Jordan, Utah. Contact us for a free case evaluation today.