Warning signs placed near highway construction zones in North Carolina and around the country usually advise drivers to slow down, but posting advisory speed limits instead would be far more effective according to a research team from the University of Missouri. The researchers were looking for simple ways to prevent rear-end collisions, so they obtained permission from the Missouri Department of Transportation to change the information posted on warning signs along a notoriously dangerous stretch of Interstate 270 outside St. Louis.
Millions of rear-end collisions
Figures released by the National Transportation Safety Board reveal that approximately 1.7 million rear-end collisions take place each year on highways in the United States, and a great many of them occur near construction zones and other places where traffic slows abruptly. These accidents claim the lives of about 1,700 victims and cause more than 500,000 injuries every year. The researchers believed that many of these lives could be saved if traffic in high-risk areas moved at more consistent speeds.
Advisory speed limits
To achieve this goal, the researchers posted advisory speed limits on warning signs that had previously urged drivers to slow down. They found that this simple step reduced rear-end collisions by 30% and cut traffic queues in half. They also noticed that drivers get involved in far fewer dangerous lane-changing incidents when they are given clear instructions.
Passenger vehicle occupants who are involved in a rear-end collision sometimes believe they escaped the incident without injury. However, many of them then go on to develop debilitating neck pain. Injuries like whiplash can be difficult to diagnose even for a trained emergency room doctor, which is why experienced personal injury attorneys may encourage car accident victims to see soft-tissue injury specialists before initiating lawsuits on their behalf. Information provided by experts could give attorneys a better understanding of the medical challenges their clients will face, and it could also be used to calculate damages.