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Tips to Prevent Accidents

Common sense is one of the most important line items in county and municipal budgets. Many local governments experience a reduction in accidents after making low-cost, sensible safety improvements—in some cases, reducing the number of crashes by one-third. Here are four common contributors to crashes and some tips to prevent car accidents. 

1. Ensure your traffic signs are unobstructed.

These signs are useless if motorists can’t see them. Make sure all STOP signs are visible and recognizable from a reasonable distance for drivers to react. At 55 mph, a vehicle needs 49 feet to slow to a stop; at 35 mph, the distance is 250 feet. If a hill or curve blocks the view, place an advance warning sign, STOP AHEAD. Trim vegetation or remove objects that block STOP signs, and replace STOP signs that are difficult to see at night with retroreflective signs.

2. Remove fixed objects close to the road. 

These objects account for many crashes, and trees account for 15% of all fatal crashes. Trees growing close to a road, especially on curves, hills and high-speed roads, are hazardous, so consider a separation project. Make sure all signposts are breakaway and mailboxes are mounted on crash-worthy supports. Remove private signs and fence posts from the right-of-way. If you cannot remove a fixed object, install an object marker to warn motorists. Note: For vegetation on private land, notify nearby property owners before taking action. 

3. Remedy sharp road curves with paved shoulders or signage.

Curves contribute significantly to crashes, especially when speeds are high. Consider placing warning signs with advisory speed, delineators, chevrons, and pavement markings on roads with curves. On high traffic roads, consider a NO PASSING zone. Providing a paved shoulder, a 4:1 ditch slope and removing trees in the right-of-way on the outside of a curve can help motorists recover if they veer off the road. 

4. Fix edge drops. 

A sharp drop of two or more inches off the road is hazardous to motorists if they swerve out of the lane, which could lead to a rollover crash. Edge drops occur because of unstable or soft shoulders, and are common on the inside of a curve where vehicles pull off to park, enter a driveway, or stop for a mailbox. To fix these drops, stabilize or pave the shoulder on curves, hills, or stretches with multiple driveways. TIC’s workshop, Highway Safety, is one of several courses that provides solutions to common road safety problems.
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