On and Off-Ramp Accidents in Washington State

On and Off-Ramp Accidents in Washington StateDriving on flat straight roads is difficult enough for most drivers. Driving on on-and-off ramps is especially dangerous. The first danger is that these roads curve forcing drivers to drive slowly to stay on the road and in their lane of travel. The second danger is that drivers entering roadways from ramps need to merge into oncoming traffic, and oncoming traffic rarely wants to let you in. A third danger for drivers who use on-ramps is that the ramps may not be clearly marked, causing a driver to enter a ramp when the driver just meant to turn off the highway or take another road. For these reasons (and so many more) on-and-off ramp accidents may be fatal or cause catastrophic injuries.

The Tacoma News Tribune recently reported a multi-vehicle crash involving 8-12 cars who were traveling on a ramp from State Route 7 to Northbound Interstate 5 in Tacoma. Ice on the road is believed to be the main cause of the crash. Fortunately, nobody appears to have been seriously hurt. A trooper was called to the site of the accident to help a driver whose car was stuck in a ditch in the early morning hours. While he was helping the driver, the other cars all struck each other and the trooper’s patrol car. The ramp was closed for several hours.

Why are on-ramp and off-ramp accidents dangerous?

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), nearly 40% of all speeding-related accidents happen on curves, and curves are the primary feature of on-and-off ramps. The FMCSA recommends that drivers reduce their speed before entering an entrance or exit ramp.

As dangerous as it is for cars to drive too fast on on-ramps and off-ramps, ramps are even more dangerous for trucks. Trucks are prone to roll over if the truck driver enters the curve at a high speed or the driver misjudges the degree of the curve. Generally, the posted speed limit is safe for cars but not safe for trucks. The FMCSA states that even though entrance and exit ramps and interchanges compose less than 5% of all highway miles, they cause 20 to 30% of all large-truck crashes.

Some of the factors that contribute to on-ramp and off-ramp car accidents are:

  • Excessive speeding. Ramps are generally higher above ground and curved which makes it easier for a driver of a car, truck, or motorcycle to lose control of their vehicle. When the driver loses control, they may slide into a barrier wall, turn over, or crash into another car.
  • Centrifugal force. When drivers enter a curve that bends towards the left, the driver feels a force that feels like the curve is moving to the right. Drivers who enter curves that bend to the right feel like the curve is forcing the car to the left. Drivers need to adjust for these forces to stay in their lane of travel – and avoid veering into another lane. The main adjustment factor is for the driver to slow down.
  • Driving too slowly. While driving slowly is advisable around surves, driving too slowly can create dangers too. Drivers in the rear may not realize how slow you’re traveling and may strike your car in the rear if you slow down too much while in the curve.
  • Merging accidents. Drivers who leave an exit-ramp need to merge into new lanes of travel. The drivers in those new lanes may not allow the driver leaving the ramp to merge. Drivers who leave off-ramps need to be very careful about staying in their lane of travel and stopping, if necessary, before they shift into another lane.
  • Sideswipe accidents occur when one car strikes the side of another car. Sideswipe accidents can occur on ramps if one driver is in a hurry and tries to pass a slower driver or one driver doesn’t adjust to the centrifugal forces and veers into another lane.
  • Lack of awareness. Some drivers realize too late that they’ve reached the on-ramp. They may turn suddenly causing drivers in their rear to crash into them.

In tragic cases, a driver who is distracted or drunk may even enter an exit-ramp instead of an on-ramp causing a deadly head-on crash with a driver leaving the exit-ramp.

As discussed above, on-ramp and off-ramp accidents are especially dangerous when it is raining, snowing, icy, or the weather makes it difficult to steer or see. A major danger if a car accident occurs on an on-ramp or an off-ramp is that once when a car accident occurs, it is very likely that any vehicles who have entered the ramp will either crash into the first set of cars or crash into each other – because there normally aren’t wide shoulders and because it’s very difficult to steer into another lane in a curve.

Who is liable for an on-ramp or off-ramp accident?

Our Vancouver, WA car accident lawyers file injury claims against all responsible parties, including:

  • A driver who was speeding or taking a turn too fast
  • The driver of a car that failed to allow another driver to merge
  • The owner of the car driven by a negligent driver
  • A trucking company that hired a negligent truck driver
  • The Washington Department of Transportation or other state entities if the ramp was not designed properly or the ramp was not properly maintained
  • A business that served alcohol to a driver who was visibly intoxicated or a minor – if that person then caused the ramp accident

At Philbrook Law Office, our Vancouver and Battle Ground, WA car accident lawyers work with investigators who examine the on or off-ramp site. We work with your doctors to fully understand the seriousness of your injuries. Our lawyers demand compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, and the damage to your vehicle. We file wrongful death claims if a loved one tragically dies in a ramp accident.

To discuss your rights after any type of vehicle accident, call our lawyers in Vancouver or Battle Ground, WA. You can reach us at 360-695-3309 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment. We represent car, truck, and motorcycle accident victims on a contingency fee basis.