Many people assume bigger highways are safer because they cut down on traffic congestion, but the exact opposite appears to be true.
According to a study conducted by Nordic Road & Transport Research, wider roads lead to fewer accidents, and increasing the number of lanes will usually decrease the number of accidents, but if the increased lanes reduce the width of lanes and center sections, the effect is not the same. Although collisions typically happen less frequently on highways than other roads, when cars are traveling at high speeds like on highways, the chance of a fatality is much higher.
A 2022 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that multi-lane freeways are mainly concentrated in developed countries, like the U.S., which has at least 43 “super multi-lane freeways” with different traffic flow characteristics than traditional multi-lane freeways. For example, Georgia’s Interstate-75 through Atlanta consists of 15 lanes. Freeways like this one, with more lanes, tend to have higher speeds in the inner lanes, and research has shown a correlation between speed and crash severity.
According to the research heavy-vehicle, two-vehicle, and multivehicle involvements are more likely to lead to serious crashes on both super multi-lane and traditional multi-lane freeways, although the degrees of impact on super multi-lane freeways are much higher. For super multi-lane freeways, vehicle-to-facility collisions increase the probability of high severity compared with vehicle-to-vehicle accidents. Rainy weather can also increase the possibility of serious crashes.
Staying safe on multi-lane freeways
In response to transportation demands, super multi-lane freeways are likely the trend of the future. Based on the findings of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health’s study referenced above, researchers recommended several ways to reduce the crash severity of super multi-lane freeways, including:
- Improved lighting conditions at night.
- Timely reminders and appropriate speed limits during inclement weather, particularly in heavy rain.
- Enhanced informational cues and guidance to reduce the risk of multi-vehicle accidents, particularly in adverse weather or road conditions.
- Separate lanes for heavy vehicles, reducing the interactions between them and light passenger cars.
- Blind spot notices for large or heavy vehicles.
Here are some additional ways motorists can stay safe when traveling on multi-lane highways:
- Focus on the road. Stay alert and don’t drive when you are tired.
- Avoid sudden moves. Steer lightly and don’t make any quick maneuvers when traveling at highway speeds.
- Make your intentions known. Turn on your signal before changing lanes and ensure that you have space to do so, never moving over more than one lane at a time.
- Share the road. Move over to an adjacent lane whenever possible to give vehicles room to merge onto the highway from entrance ramps.
- Be aware of blind spots. Never drive in another vehicle’s blind spot for an extended period of time – the larger the vehicle, the larger the blind spot.
- Leave room. Maintain a greater following distance behind larger vehicles like trucks and buses, and vulnerable vehicles like motorcycles.
- Slow down. Traveling at a lower speed will allow you to see hazards ahead and stop more quickly if necessary.
When driving on a freeway, plan out your itinerary ahead of time – especially if you are unfamiliar with the route – to avoid undertaking a last-minute lane change or exit that could put you and other drivers in a dangerous situation.
What should I do after an accident on a freeway?
If you become involved in an auto accident on I-20, I-75, I-85, I-95, or any of Georgia’s city, state, or rural roads, here are the steps you should take:
- Call 911 as quickly as possible. You will need a police report to file a personal injury claim later on.
- Request an ambulance if you or any of your passengers are injured.
- Move your car to the side of the road and out of the way of traffic if it is safe to do so.
- Report the collision to your insurance company. Never admit to fault or apologize.
- Exchange contact and insurance information with the other parties.
- Take photos of the car, the accident scene, and any passengers in the vehicle.
Were you injured in an accident that occurred on one of Georgia’s multi-lane freeways? The knowledgeable Atlanta car accident lawyers at Harris Lawry Manton LLP understand the various complexities of these cases and have the experience to handle them successfully. Call us in Atlanta or Savannah, or fill out our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation with one of our skilled attorneys today.
One of the nation’s top trial attorneys, Jeff Harris is an award-winning litigator who handles high-profile, complex cases across a wide variety of practice areas. He excels at securing justice for clients who have been seriously injured or killed, holding responsible parties accountable for their actions as well as their negligence.
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