Roads and infrastructure – they are a revolving topic of almost every political campaign on both the state and federal level. We hear about how investment can bolster economic activity and create safer roadways for drivers. Budgets and job growth are all estimates, but the effect of construction and safety are very real for drivers in Colorado.
According to the Colorado Statesman, 599 people died on our state’s roads in 2016, the most since 2005. Could rough roadways be the cause of the fatalities? Cost-benefit to the economy is often a weighty factor when considering reconstruction, but the cost of accidents should also be part of the equation.
What is the real cost of a car accident?
In 2013, car accidents that result in injuries cost, on average, more than $18,000 in insurance claims, according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. If the cost of crashes was spread out between all drivers, each person would pay $500 annually. Could we pay less for infrastructure?
The problem lies in funding. The Colorado Department of Transportation finds itself short $1 billion annually, according to the Statesman. However, the gas tax has not increased since 1991 despite the state’s population growth by 50 percent and a 75 percent increase in the vehicles driven per mile since then.
Road infrastructure is not limited to just concrete, asphalt and paint. Guard rails, road signs and traffic signals are also critical to driver safety, especially in our mountainous state. It’s hard to say definitively that poor road conditions led to nearly 600 deaths last year, but state agencies and legislators likely feel obligated to prevent them in any way they can.
Who will build the roads?
Although infrastructure improvements are left up to the state legislature, Colorado drivers can still take action if they are hurt in a car accident. Under the laws of civil litigation, injured parties can seek compensation for medical bills and insurance costs.
The state itself can be held responsible for premises liability, which is the reasonable expectation that a driver will not be hurt on the road. Ultimately, the cost and likelihood of accidents related to infrastructure are a balance between many people paying a little in increased taxes or a few people paying a lot after an accident.
Even on the best roads, not all accidents are preventable, but the odds of being injured in an accident are often left to chance. After an injury, don’t leave compensation and recovery up to fate. Instead, hire a personal injury lawyer to help gain access to care.