Overgrown Tree Limb Hazards

There are countless conditions and occurrences that often lead to automobile crashes. Wet roadways, downed trees, and other drivers are often blamed for wrecks. A lesser common, but still highly dangerous, cause is that of overgrown tree limbs. These limbs can grow so large that they cover traffic and street signs that drivers need to be able to exercise due caution on Georgia roadways.

WSB-TV released a story recently in which a man, Shayne Adams, was ticketed in Atlanta for speeding in a school zone. Mr. Adams voiced concern once he learned that he had been traveling 40 miles per hour in a 25 MPH school zone because he did not see the posted sign indicating that the stretch of road was a school zone. This was not simply an oversight on his part, but was due to the sign being covered by tree limbs that had grown so large that they blocked visual to the traffic sign.

Traffic and street signs and signals are vital to keeping Georgia roadways safe. They not only designate a speed limit, but warn drivers of upcoming changes and safety precautions as well. These types of mishaps could lead to more than just drivers being ticketed, as serious car accidents could be a result if drivers are unaware of approaching dangers and roadway changes.

Perhaps even more alarming is the possibility that branches could hang over roadways, covering reversible lane signals. Metro-Atlanta employs reversible lanes, which allow for traffic to travel in different directions in the same lanes, according to the time of day. The direction of traffic is controlled by lighted signs that hang over roadways, displaying either a red X or a green arrow. Roswell Road is most well-known for these reversible lanes, which are meant to control traffic. During times of greater traffic, that heavily traveled direction will have multiple lanes open. At different times of the day, the lane directions change to accommodate heavier traffic in a certain direction. These reversible lanes have been rumored to be considered for Cobb County, but no plans have been finalized yet. In these circumstances, a clear visual of the lane signal signs is imperative. Shrubbery and tree limbs absolutely must not be in the way of those signs.

In the event that a crash is caused because of a covered traffic sign or signal, select state or local agencies could be held liable because they did not keep the areas clear. While GDOT handles state routes, the Department of Public Works is in charge of clearing city streets. If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash, you can find out whether you have a legal claim by calling Jones & Swanson at (770) 427-5498 or filling out a contact form at www.awjlaw.com.