The Potential Danger of On- and Off-Ramp Crashes

Think back to when you first started driving. What driving tasks frightened you the most? While it seems like most people worried most about mastering parallel parking in order to pass the driver's examination, merging onto a highway ranks high on the list of real-world tasks that terrify novice drivers. In fact, many experienced drivers still worry about entering and exiting certain Florida highways.

Due to complex traffic patterns and the need for close interaction between motorists, both on-ramp accidents and exit-ramp collisions are a real danger. If another motorist's negligent actions (or even intentional trouble-making) caused a ramp accident that left you injured or claimed a loved one's life, our Panama City car accident attorney can help.

Identifying the Problem

In the early 2000s, researchers working with the Insurance Institutes for Highway Safety noted a problem: although ramps entering and exiting freeways had a higher rate of collisions per mile than other portions of the interstate highway system, there had been little research into ramp crashes and the circumstances that led to the collisions. In response, the researchers conducted a study that was published in 2004 titled "Types and characteristics of ramp-related motor vehicle crashes on urban interstate roadways in Northern Virginia" (abstract available through the National Institutes for Health).

The study examined police reports from 1,150 accidents that occurred on busy interstate ramps in urban parts of Northern Virginia. Researchers reviewed the reports to determine how ramp crashes occurred, where the crashes occurred (a point on the ramp itself vs. the junction between the ramp and the roadway), and where the at-fault driver was at the time of the crash.

Ramp Crashes: Types, Locations, and Causes

In the studied events, approximately half of ramp accidents involved at-fault drivers who were exiting the interstate road, 36% involved drivers entering the interstate, and 16% occurred partway through an access road or ramp. The authors found 3 crash types accounted for 95% of the study sample: a vehicle being run off the road, a rear-end collision, and accidents involving a sideswipe or cutoff. Exiting vehicles were most likely to be involved in a run-off-road accident, and entering vehicles were most likely to be involved in rear-end or sideswipe incidents.

On the ramps themselves, run-off-road crashes were most common form of collision, and speed was often a contributing factor. These incidents frequently occurred at night, during inclement weather, or at curved sections of the ramp. Crashes that took place on ramp margins (the place where the access road/ramp connects to the interstate) tended to be the sideswipe/cutoff form and often involved an at-fault passenger vehicle merging and colliding with the side of a large truck already driving on the interstate. In terms of access roads themselves, rear-end crashes were the most common type of crash, and congestion often played a key role. Additionally, alcohol was listed as a factor in 14% of run-off-road crashes that occurred on ramps and 30% on ramp margins.

Preventing Ramp Crashes & Helping Ramp Crash Victims

We urge readers to use caution when travelling on ramps and merging onto and off of Florida's expressways. For those interested in a refresher, part 5.26.1 of the Florida Driver's Handbook addresses Entering & Leaving Expressways. For those who have been injured by someone else's negligence in navigating on- and off-ramps, please call to arrange an appointment with our expressway accident attorney. We can help you recover compensation and move forward after a ramp accident.

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