The study says that deficient roadway conditions "are a substantially more lethal factor than drunk driving, speeding or non-use of safety belts," when it comes to highway fatalities in the U.S.
Statistically, 10 roadway crashes take place every single minute in the U.S. and contribute to more than half of the highway fatalities and more than 38% of the non-fatal injuries, according to the study.
PIRE is a transportation safety research organization sponsored by a broad cross section of educational, private-sector and government organizations and has conducted research for a range of organizations, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, National Safety Council and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
Not only have lousy roads contribute to more than 22,000 fatalities, they cost the nation more than $200 billion annually, the PIRE study concluded.
"Recent concerns about swine flu pale in comparison to the number of crash victims I treat," said Dr. Jared Goldberg, an emergency room physician in Alexandria, Va.
"In medical terms, highway fatalities and injuries have reached epidemic proportions, and efforts to prevent further spread of this plague are essential. In the absence of a true vaccine to defend ourselves, fixing dangerous roads would help prevent traffic crashes from occurring in the first place."
The report, which was titled "On a Crash Course" identifies ways transportation officials can improve road conditions.
Some immediate solutions include: replacing non-forgiving poles with breakaway poles, using brighter and more durable pavement markings, adding rumble strips to shoulders, mounting more guardrails or safety barriers, and installing better signs with easier-to-read legends.
The report also suggested more significant road improvements, including: adding or widening shoulders, improving roadway alignment, replacing or widening narrow bridges, reducing pavement edges and abrupt drop offs, and clearing more space adjacent to roadways.
The report did not include the amount of wear and tear bad roads cause to commercial vehicles, and in Canada, according to the Canadian Automobile Association [CAA] statistics, bad roads lead to 350 fatalities and 25,000 injuries every year. (Tire Review/Akron)