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Toll roads are hotly debated, and these roadway improvements are typically billed as progress, but many drivers disagree. While toll roads offer drivers faster transit options for a fee, the financial strain of paying for roadway usage could become untenable for many commuters. While drivers commuting between Monument, Larkspur and the Castle Rock area have been enjoying the newly completed I-25 South Gap toll free of charge while the roadway was being tested for feasibility. Now, fees are being assessed and many drivers are left wondering whether toll roads are worth the cost of usage.

Advocates for toll roads maintain they aid in managing traffic congestion and roadway safety. Moreover, the revenue from tolls often goes towards road maintenance and improvement, ensuring safer and smoother drives. However, critics view toll roads as a financial burden - particularly for low-income residents who may depend on these roads for daily commuting.

There's also an ongoing debate about "double taxation." Many taxpayers perceive toll roads as an added tax because community residents have already contributed to the road costs through federal, state, and local taxes. When drivers use toll roads and are assessed a fee, they feel like they're paying twice for the same service. So, is the cost of using a toll road a justifiable expense? Because these roads come with a fee, drivers must weigh the benefits of usage against the costs.

Examining the Safety of Toll Roads: Insights from Research

After a severe multi-vehicle collision at an I-90 toll plaza near Hampshire, Illinois, many citizens had questions about the overall safety of toll roads. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigated the factors contributing to this pileup. They concluded that the design of the toll plaza was a significant element in the incident. Astonishingly, almost half of all interstate mishaps in Illinois took place at toll road plazas.

The contentious issue surrounding the safety of toll road plazas sparked further research into the general safety of toll roads, comparing it with other highways and roadways. The International Bridge, Tunnel, and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) undertook an extensive study examining the fatality rates across 75 tolled facilities, including roads, bridges, and tunnels. Their findings indicated that these tolled infrastructures experienced fewer fatalities than other similar systems, specifically an average of 0.52 toll road fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles driven, compared to 1.47 on all US roadways.

Why Are Highways More Dangerous Than Toll Roads?

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, there were over 121,000 traffic crashes in Colorado in 2019, resulting in more than 600 fatalities, indicating that accidents are not uncommon on Colorado's roads. Weather conditions contribute to making Colorado roads hazardous. Heavy snowfall and icy conditions during winter months make driving particularly treacherous, especially in mountainous areas. As for road conditions, many highways and rural roads lack sufficient lighting or have sharp curves, steep grades, or insufficient signage, contributing to their danger level. While many factors can influence driving safety, roadway maintenance is one of the most pertinent factors. Poorly maintained roads play a significant role in traffic accidents.

Here are some ways poorly maintained roads contribute to roadway accidents:

  • Potholes and Deteriorating Surfaces: Potholes and deteriorating road surfaces can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles, leading to accidents. They can also damage vehicles, potentially leading to mechanical failure and accidents.
  • Inadequate Signage: Missing or faded road signs can lead to confusion among drivers, resulting in wrong turns or other mistakes that can cause accidents.
  • Poor Drainage Systems: When roads are not adequately drained during heavy rain, they can become flooded, making them dangerous for drivers. This can cause vehicles to hydroplane, leading to loss of control.
  • Substandard Road Networks: According to research, a third of all traffic fatalities can be attributed to substandard road conditions. The Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) states that around 50% of all driving fatalities are caused by deficient roadways. Furthermore, the same study found that around 38% of all non-fatal motor vehicle accident injuries result from poorly maintained roads.

Ensuring roads remain in good condition is not just about improving driving comfort, but it's a critical factor in ensuring the safety of all road users. While toll roads have a cost for usage, most are among the best maintained in the areas where they are built. Toll roads require a fee for usage, but they also provide safer, better-maintained roads.

Contact the Attorneys at Clawson & Clawson Today

Whether toll road costs are justifiable remains to be seen as more studies are conducted. The value equation of cost and benefit of toll usage is multifaceted, hinging on several factors such as toll fees, road safety, availability of alternate routes, and personal financial circumstances. Each driver will ultimately come to an individual conclusion about the feasibility of long-term toll usage. Driving can be dangerous, and for drivers in Colorado who find themselves forced to commute through busy metro areas, finding a safe means of travel is crucial. While safety is a primary factor, there are other issues that must be considered when balancing the long-term costs and benefits.

If you’ve been injured in an automotive accident, the experienced attorneys at Clawson & Clawson, LLP, can offer tailored guidance for your unique situation. You don’t have to navigate these complexities alone.

Call us today at (719) 602-5888 to schedule a consultation. Let's explore your options together.

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