Anyone who drives on I-95 these days knows how bad the traffic is, particularly in the construction areas. While traffic delays are one thing, putting people at risk because of dangerous conditions is another, and it is entirely unacceptable. Right now I’m particularly talking about I-95 between Girard Avenue and I-676.
First of all, in both directions, there is no warning that the highway is going to narrow to three lanes without a shoulder. The three lanes become very narrow and it becomes impossible to tell if you are even in a lane The lines that are supposed to divide the lanes are unclear, particularly going northbound.
I drive through this area a lot. At certain times, traffic is stopped, or hardly moving. It gets worse when traffic is light and people can drive faster. This is where you need to pay extra attention. I know I have to keep a sharp lookout because of the sudden pinch on the roadway and the narrow and poorly defined lanes. I usually stay in the left or right lanes as close to the barricades as I can get. I do this because I know that people that are unfamiliar with this area are not going to know how to react, and it’s not entirely their fault. They are going to hit their brakes and slow down suddenly. They are not going to be able to tell where the lanes are, and are going to drive in two lanes, or cut me or someone else out, or swerve to avoid hitting someone. I would like to know how many accidents or near accidents happen because of these road conditions. Like I said, I try to stay on the far left or the far right because I feel safer only having to worry about a car hitting me from one side.
Last Thursday night, it got worse. At about 7:00 PM, I was driving southbound in the far right lane. There was a car directly in front of me and it suddenly swerved into the middle lane. I then saw that the driver was trying to avoid a large pothole. I couldn’t move in into the middle lane because there was a car in that lane right next to me. It was too late for me to stop and I hit the pothole. I hit it and blew out my tire and bent my rim. $350 for new rim. $150 for a new tire. At least no one was hurt.
This doesn’t mean I’m not aggravated or that I’m not worried about my future trips on I-95. By coincidence, on my way into work this morning, there was a story on KYW about how government authorities expect terrible pothole conditions this spring. This is due to the wet winter and the constant freezing and thawing on the roadway. This is a recipe for bad roads and a lot of potholes. This dangerous roadway is going to get even more dangerous. I can't imagine how many people are going to get hurt or possibly killed.
I am notifying the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation about my incident. I’m also sending them a copy of this article. Let me tell you the main reason I’m doing this. It’s really not about me or getting back the money I paid for the tire and rim. It’s about the safety issue and the immediate need for action so people won’t get hurt or killed. I don’t know how they couldn’t realize that I-95 is dangerous and only getting worse, but I’m going to let them know again that something has to be done about this road.
I’m also doing it for another reason. I’ve been handling automobile accident cases in the Philadelphia area for over 30 years. The laws that apply to the state of Pennsylvania are different than the laws that would apply to you and me. The state can get away with not maintaining their property or roads in ways that we could never get away with. One of the things the state of Pennsylvania uses to try and shield themselves from injury and death claims due to dangerous highways is a law that states they need advance notice, and sometimes even advance written notice of a dangerous condition, or else they are not responsible for any injuries or death caused by that dangerous condition. WELL, HERE IS THAT NOTICE.
From now on, if anyone gets hurt, they can contact my office at 215-332-0300 or contact us on the web and get a copy of the letter, this article, and the proof that I sent a certified letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation regarding the dangerous conditions on I-95. I hope your family never needs the letter, but unless they make some drastic changes, some unfortunate family somewhere will.
For tips on how to deal with an auto accident on treacherous roads such as I-95, check out our article on fender-benders here.