Transport Ministry: highway design defects are one of many causes of deadly automobile accidents

Defective and dangerous roadways as well as roadway design defects contribute to the growing number of deadly automobile accidents in Peru, reported daily El Comercio on Tuesday.

Peru’s Transport Ministry, or MTC, is currently inspecting 3,000 kilometers of highway to develop new strategies for maintaining, repairing and improving the country’s roadway infrastructure.

A project, titled “roads that forgive (human) mistakes,” should soon be launched, to ensure that additional preventive measures – such as improving night visibility and signposting – are taken, in order to reduce the number of automobile accidents.

“It’s about drivers not dying because of their errors, and reducing the severity of collisions,” said civil engineer Luis Morante. “In the jungle, because of the rain, the roads must be properly drained and be constantly repaired and maintained. In the highlands, where there are a lot of sharp curves, rigorous signposting is necessary.”

Guardrails, added Morante, have to be installed taking into account adequate space and “flexibility, so that they don’t break so easily and tear into vehicles.”

In March 2008, a badly-designed guardrail did keep a vehicle from flying over a cliff, but sliced the car in two upon impact, killing the driver. Construction companies, said Morante, often skimp on the quality of products to save a few bucks.

In Peru – notorious for its high number of severe car and bus accidents – many of the vehicles are old, drivers reckless and the roads often in a bad state.

Accidents have shot upward from 16,000 in 1997 to 24,000 in 2007, reported police, and over half occur in Peru’s capital, Lima.

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