Why Are Kentucky’s Roads So Hazardous?

by | Jun 24, 2022 | Car Accidents

According to a recent report, the roads in the Bluegrass State are the sixth most dangerous roads in the nation.

Mississippi had the most dangerous roads in the nation, with a 9.93 “danger rating.” Kentucky’s danger rating was 8.71. The danger rating included factors like fatalities per mile and traffic citations per driver. Kentucky’s fatal accident numbers have increased since 2020, as have the numbers in most other states. 

“Each year, there are thousands of road accidents in the USA, with many resulting in fatalities and life-changing injuries. Not only are drivers at risk, but so is anyone else in the vehicle, and while there have been many safety innovations over the past decades, such as seatbelts, airbags, and crumple zones, we continue to see high levels of serious injury resulting from automotive accidents,” the report stated.

A little over half of fatal accident victims in Kentucky weren’t wearing seat belts.

Dangerous Roads

Almost all of Kentucky’s roads were originally built in the mid 1900s. Most of them have been updated since. Common updates include cosmetic changes, like resurfacing and widening. The underlying design, including things such as sight lines and curves, is the same.

Usually, if a defective roadway design causes a wreck, the victim cannot sue the governmental entity that designed and originally built it. Kentucky’s sovereign immunity law usually applies in these situations. This long standing rule, which dates back to the Middle Ages and has been watered down a lot in modern times, still applies to mostly discretionary functions, such as what a road should look like and how it should be built.

Ministerial functions are different. The county, state, or whoever built the road is responsible for maintaining that road. Large, dangerous potholes must be filled, and the road must be expanded if traffic patterns dictate. Warning signs, guardrails, and energy-absorbing barrels must be updated as well.

Similar rules apply to traffic signals. It’s almost impossible to sue city hall for not installing a traffic light. A Lexington personal injury attorney can take legal action if a tree obscures the stoplight, the stoplight doesn’t work properly, or there’s another mechanical or operational issue.

Defective Products

Defective tires cause about 10,000 crashes a year. Many of these wrecks cause serious injuries. Defective breaks and other such issues cause thousands of wrecks a year as well.

Usually, manufacturers are strictly liable for the injuries their defective products cause. Common issues in tires include:

  • Manufacturing Defects: Despite what TV commercials claim, tire manufacturers care almost nothing about people. They mostly care about profits. So, they often use the cheapest possible parts in their tires.
  • Design Defects: Today’s cars and trucks are a lot heavier and faster that the ones on the road twenty years ago. If a tire’s design hasn’t been significantly updated in recent years, it may be unable to withstand regular wear and tear.

The unforeseeable misuse defense is normally the only effective defense in defective product claims. Only extreme product misuse, like using slick racing tires to go off-roading in the Appalachians, triggers this defense.

Negligent Drivers

Defective roads and products only cause a fraction of the car accidents in Kentucky. Driver error causes 98 percent of these wrecks. Driver impairment, which comes in five basic forms, causes most of these collisions:

  • Drugs: Almost half of drivers involved in serious accidents have drugs in their systems. Marijuana, which has been decriminalized in many areas, at least informally, is the leading cause of drugged driving wrecks. Prescription pain pills, like Vicodin, are a rather distant second. Other possibly impairing substances include NyQuill and some other things you probably have in your house at this moment.
  • Alcohol: In the 1980s, the government informally declared war on drunk drivers. Despite the introduction of tougher laws and tougher enforcement, the government is losing. The proportion of fatal alcohol-related wrecks is about the same now as it was back in the day.
  • Fatigue: To many people, lack of sleep is almost a badge of honor. These individuals willingly get behind the wheel, even though driving after twenty consecutive awake hours is the equivalent of driving drunk. Drowsiness, like alcohol, affects judgment ability and motor skills.
  • Distraction: Most people acknowledge the dangers of using a cell phone while driving. Most people ignore the risk and use their phones anyway. They believe that if they can multitask at their desks, they can multitask behind the wheel. Conditions change so quickly on Kentucky roads that a few moments of distraction could have tragic results.
  • Medical Condition: In the pre-coronavirus era, medical impairment usually meant a condition like diabetes, epilepsy, or heart disease that could cause a sudden loss of consciousness. That’s still true today. Driving with flu-like symptoms, such as watery eyes, sneezing, and coughing, is almost as dangerous. These symptoms reduce driving ability by as much as 50 percent.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but selfishness causes almost as many wrecks as the five kinds of driving impairment. Examples include speeding, ignoring a traffic control device, and changing lanes unsafely. Frankly, we’re often in such a hurry to reach our destinations that we ignore our duty of care. When that happens, other people usually suffer.

Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.