Five Deaths on Angeles Crest Highway Raise Road Safety Concerns

In June of 2011, the Angeles Crest Highway officially reopened after being closed to traffic for nearly two years. The highway had suffered extensive damage following the 2009 Station Fire, Los Angeles County’s worst recorded wildfire. Plants that held soil in place were scorched away by the flames, and washouts left the roadway pockmarked with gaps (one gorge was some 200 feet deep).

Many Los Angelenos were ecstatic to hear of the reopening of the heavily traveled mountain road, and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) noted engineering improvements aimed at keeping drivers safe. But, a recent string of deaths on the Angeles Crest Highway have some questioning whether possible design flaws in the revamped structure make it a dangerous roadway.

Is the Crest Safe?

In the first three weeks after the Crest reopened, a trio of motorists lost their lives on the new stretch of highway, two in solo car crashes and another in a motorcycle accident. A pair of fatal crashes later in the summer – one involving a man who hit a mountainside while attempting to negotiate a curve and another in which a woman careened off the road in the early morning – brought the death toll to five by mid-August.

Both the California Highway Patrol and Caltrans have thus far insisted that the drivers, not the road, are responsible for the accidents. True, in at least one of the deaths, alcohol was a factor. But, as is standard procedure for fatal accident, Caltrans has launched an investigation aimed at assessing whether roadway factors contributed to any of the deaths.

Dangerous Roadway Lawsuits in California

Fault for many accidents is intuitively directed at a driver; however, even though it is easy to overlook, the environment of the accident is often at least partially to blame for a crash.

Improper or confusing signage, roadway flaws, poor maintenance, a lack of guardrails or any number of other highway defects can all lead to a motor vehicle accident. Sometimes, safety features are present, but are not capable of fulfilling their intended purpose. For instance, guardrails with too few posts, too low of a beam height or inadequate anchoring may prove inadequate in an accident.

When problems with a roadway contribute to an accident, the government organization responsible for the roadway may be held accountable in a lawsuit. If you have been involved in an accident on a dangerous road, you may have a cause of action against Caltrans or another government entity. Contact a Los Angeles personal injury attorney today to learn more about your legal options.


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