Accident statistics published by the National Transportation Safety Board indicate that about 1,700 road users are killed each year and a further 500,000 or so are injured in rear-end highway collisions in Pennsylvania and around the country. These accidents often take place on stretches of road that are under construction where signs have been placed advising drivers to slow down. A study released on Oct. 15 by a team of University of Missouri researchers suggests that simply changing the messages on these signs could improve road safety and save lives.

Advisory speed limits

The researchers came to this conclusion after working with the Missouri Department of Transportation to change the messages on warning signs posted along a notoriously accident-prone stretch of highway near St. Louis. Instead of urging motorists to slow down, the signs displayed advisory speed limits. The researchers believed that giving drivers clearer instructions would lead to more consistent speeds and fewer accidents.

Calmer traffic and fewer crashes

Changing the signs led to reduced congestion and cut the length of traffic queues by more than half. The researchers also noticed that drivers were far less likely to become involved in dangerous lane-changing incidents when speed limits were posted instead of warnings. The safety benefits were also significant. Changing the signs resulted in traffic speeds that were up to 10 mph slower and cut the number of rear-end collisions by 30%.

Rear-end collision lawsuits

The plaintiffs in car accident lawsuits must establish that they suffered harm due to the defendant’s negligent actions. This can be difficult when both parties claim that they acted properly. An experienced personal injury attorney could explain that establishing liability could be less challenging in cases involving rear-end collisions as drivers are expected to maintain a safe distance at all times.