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The Dangerous Connection Between Road Hazards and Washington Car Accidents

As a personal injury firm, we understand why most people automatically assume that negligence or driver error is the root cause behind any given car accident. However, Washington motorists should not be surprised to learn that a large number of crashes are actually caused by hazardous road conditions. Let’s take a look at some of the most common hazards drivers should be aware of, so that future accidents may be better avoided.

The Overall Data Behind Washington Car Accidents

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has an archive of the state’s crash-related data, and a quick glance shows us that the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically altered the amount of traffic and accidents. From 2009 to 2019, the state averaged more than 100,000 total crashes each year–in 2020, that number plummeted to 86,000, largely due to the reduced number of drivers on the road. Unfortunately, however, it increased to 89,000 in 2021, which would indicate that we are returning to our former averages.

The state’s data archive doesn’t specify the number of road-related crashes, but we know from experience that at least 5 to 10 percent of crashes are caused by outside factors such as road conditions–using recent figures, that’s at least 5,000 crashes! In many cases, these accidents can be even more deadly due to drivers going off the road or losing control of their vehicle.

Biggest Washington Road Hazards to Look Out For

There are an infinite number of potential road hazards, but some are much more common than others, such as:

Insufficient or missing rails and barriers

Washington’s urban roads are usually very secure, but there are a lot of regions where roads are more rugged and less protected. This can cause cars to run all the way off the road, and it also provides less protection from potential hazards entering the roadway.

Missing or misleading signage or signals

GPS systems may have improved dramatically in recent years, but all drivers still rely heavily on traffic signs and signals. If the appropriate signage is not present or is not correct for whatever reason, drivers may tend to lose track of their surroundings or make sudden stops. If a large number of vehicles are at an intersection without proper signals, this may also cause large-scale confusion as well as accidents.


Potholes are probably the most well-known road hazard, and they are present in both urban and rural settings. The smallest potholes can give you a good jolt, but the bigger ones can easily cause an accident.

Poor or missing traffic lines and patterns

Similar to traffic signals, drivers also depend on established traffic lines and patterns, especially on highways and urban areas. If inclimate weather conditions cover these lines or if they are confusing, accidents can start piling up.

Unmarked work zones or uneven surfaces

If work is being done on or near the road, there is a chance that workers may not properly warn drivers about work zones or surface changes. These unexpected changes can cause drivers to run over hazards and puncture their tires or lose control, especially if the road is dusty or wet.

Improperly paved shoulders

The area between the traffic lane and the side of the road is known as the shoulder. When roads are built or repaired, the shoulder may drop-off or dip below the surface of the road, which can cause drivers to lose control if they happen to veer outside of the lane even slightly.

Need Help With a Washington Car Accident Claim? Contact Van Law Firm

If you’ve suffered injuries in a Washington car accident, it’s in your best interest to seek trusted legal representation as soon as possible. Thankfully for accident victims, the award-winning team of Washington car accident attorneys from Van Law Firm are standing by to help when you need it most. With over $50 million recovered to date and 500+ 5-star reviews, our reputation for excellence is always on display. Call us today at (360) 200-0000 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.