How Poor Road Design and Maintenance Contribute to Deadly Collisions in Nebraska

Nebraska has seen a rise in traffic fatalities in recent years, with road conditions playing a major role. Poorly designed roads that are not properly maintained can create hazardous situations that lead to deadly crashes. Improving road design and upkeeping maintenance practices could help reduce collisions and save lives on Nebraska’s streets and highways.

Outdated Road Design

Many roads in Nebraska were built decades ago and no longer meet modern safety standards. Some were constructed in the 1950s and 60s when traffic volumes were lower and vehicle speeds were slower. However, increased congestion and higher speed limits have made these outdated designs more dangerous. Issues like tight curves, short merge lanes, narrow shoulders, limited sight lines, and lack of rumble strips or cable barriers can all contribute to accidents. Updating old infrastructure to accommodate today’s faster-moving traffic is critical for improving safety.

For example, tight curve radii on exits and interchange loops that were acceptable at 55 mph are extremely unsafe at 70+ mph speeds common today. This can lead to rollover crashes when drivers lose control attempting to navigate curves at high speeds. Widening curve radii and banking on cloverleaf interchanges and tighter off-ramps would allow drivers to maintain more consistent speeds through curves.

Insufficient Lane Widths

Narrow lanes are especially problematic on rural two-lane highways in Nebraska. A standard lane width is 12 feet, but many older rural roads have lanes that are only 9 or 10 feet wide. These cramped lanes leave little room for error and increase the risk of sideswipe, head-on, and run-off road crashes. Wider lanes give drivers more operating space and decrease the potential for conflicts. There have been calls for minimum 11 foot lanes on Nebraska’s high-speed rural highways to allow for safer passing, although this has the side effect of increasing traffic speed.

For example, a 2005 study found an 18% decrease in run-off road crashes after lane widening projects on Nebraska highways. This indicates a direct correlation between narrow lanes and loss of control crashes. Updating outdated 9-10 foot lanes to modern 11-12 foot width standards could significantly reduce sideswipes and run-offs on rural two-lane roads.

Poorly Lit Roads

Insufficient lighting on Nebraska’s streets and highways has been linked to nighttime crashes. Many secondary roads have no lighting at all or sparse coverage. Even parts of some busy urban freeways are without adequate illumination. This makes it difficult for drivers to see hazards, pedestrians, or slow-moving vehicles after dark. Installing more street lights, underpasses lights, and interchange lighting could dramatically improve roadway visibility at night. Lighting upgrades may be expensive but could pay for themselves in lives saved.

For example, research has found that installing interchange lighting reduced nighttime crashes by 33-38%. Extending lighting more widely along Nebraska’s busiest highways and interchanges could significantly lessen crashes after dark.

Deteriorating Road Conditions

Perhaps the biggest factor in many crashes is poor road maintenance. Roads that are not properly maintained become dangerous due to crumbling pavement, potholes, cracked surfaces, fading paint, missing signs, and more. As surfaces deteriorate over time, skid resistance is reduced which can cause loss of control, especially in wet conditions. Hitting potholes or debris can lead to swerving or loss of control. Faded lane markings eliminate guidance and make it easier to drift or wander out of the lane. Poor maintenance greatly elevates crash risk and liability. But adequate funding for proactive repairs is lacking. Increased investment in road maintenance and timely repairs is essential.

For example, a report found that over 33% of Nebraska’s roads are in poor or mediocre condition. Driving on roads in disrepair increases stopping distances and blowout risks, and leads to more crashes, studies show. Boosting infrastructure budgets for preventative maintenance, surface treatments, pothole patching and lane marking renewal could significantly improve roadway safety across the state.

Deadly collisions on Nebraska’s road network are far too common. While driver behavior plays a part, poor road design and deficient maintenance are major contributors. Investing in safety-focused upgrades and performing regular proactive maintenance must become higher priorities. Implementing modern design features, wider lanes, better lighting, and timely repairs can help significantly reduce crash rates across Nebraska. Road safety impacts all residents.

By modernizing outdated infrastructure and renewing focus on proper upkeep, Nebraska can work to prevent needless tragedies.

If you have crashed in Nebraska because of poorly designed roads or roads that have not been maintained, we can help. Get in touch with us today. We have offices in 32 locations and 19 states, including Nebraska, Maryland, and Ohio.

Call now for a free consultation on (888) 477-0597.