Are Wider Lanes More Dangerous? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Many drivers probably think that wider lanes on streets are safer, however, studies have shown that the opposite is actually true. While wider lanes are safer in the design of high-speed highways, studies show they can actually increase the risk of car accidents in urban and suburban streets and roads.

Unfortunately, many municipalities also think that this is true and have developed streets with 12-foot lanes instead of the safer 10-foot lanes. One of the first researchers to study this issue found that in large cities, the wider the lanes, the higher the crash rates. Another study determined that increased lane widths could be blamed for approximately 900 additional traffic deaths every year.

Pedestrians are especially at higher risks when walking on streets with wider lanes. Wider lanes mean that the distance to walk across the street is more, increasing the time it takes for a person to get from one side of the street to the other. The broader width of the lane also means that vehicles are traveling at a higher speed, increasing the dangers for pedestrians. For example, if a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle traveling at 20 mph, they have a 90 percent chance of survival, but if the vehicle is traveling at 30 mph, the pedestrian only has a 15 percent chance of survival. Broader lanes also mean much less room for bicycles, putting cyclists in the same peril as pedestrians.

What Are the Benefits of Narrow Lanes?

Some of the benefits of narrow lanes over wider lanes in urban and suburban areas include:

  • Drivers have an increased sense of awareness because the narrower lane leaves less room for driver error.
  • Allows for more room for protected bike lanes.
  • Provides a shorter distance for pedestrians crossing the street.
  • Allows for more room for wider sidewalks for pedestrians.
  • Allows for more room for a median or island for pedestrians to stop as they cross the street, providing them with a safe refuge from traffic.

Filing an Accident Claim

Pedestrians who have been injured after being hit by a vehicle are entitled to file damages just like other car accident victims can. Under Virginia law, a victim can seek compensation for all the medical expenses their injuries have cost, such as emergency room treatment, surgeries, hospital stays, doctors’ visits, therapy, medical equipment or devices, medications, and travel expenses for medical treatment.

Many accident victims are unable to work while they are recovering from their injuries and lose income. A victim is entitled to recoup not only the amount they lost in income but also be reimbursed for benefits they may have used while unable to work, such as vacation time, sick time, or personal time.

In addition to these economic damages, accident victims can also seek damages for the pain they endured from their injuries, the loss of enjoyment in their daily life, and emotional anguish. A Virginia personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and determine what other types of damages you may also be able to pursue. If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, or any other type of accident, contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys.