By Tim Baxter, Road Safety and Loss Prevention Specialist

Dead end roads mean just that! The road ends with no outlet. Unfortunately, many counties do not have their dead-end roads properly signed or barricaded. NIRMA has paid numerous claims over the years due to the improper or lack of proper sign installations on these roads.

Many times, the roads have a closed or removed bridge and have been closed for numerous years. Some of these roads show virtually no maintenance activity and are overgrown with weeds and grass. Motorists generally understand they are not passable, even when not signed, but that is not an excuse to improperly sign. The only time a dead-end road does not require signing is when the road has been legally and properly vacated with ownership given back to adjacent landowners.

Sometimes, the dead-end roads are functionally classified as minimum maintenance and are maintained due to the need for landowners to access their property. These situations are likely to have a motorist, unfamiliar with the road, drive down the road and possibly have an accident or get stuck. Internet road assistance often sends motorists down said roads with no updated information that they are closed or a dead end. That is what happened on a recent claim.

Dead end roads must be signed properly, at the beginning and where it ends. Proper signing, such as “Dead End” or “No Outlet” signs installed at the beginning of each end of the mile warns the motorist there is no outlet. Without that knowledge, motorists can end up in unfortunate situations.

Signing at the end of a dead-end road is just as critical as the beginning. If a bridge has been removed with no Type 3 barricades and proper signing, motorists can drive off into the channel causing serious injury and fatalities, as has happened in the past. It is very difficult to defend member counties without the proper signing in dead-end situations.

The end of a newly established dead-end road, such as a permanent bridge closure, should be marked with a minimum of two Type 3 barricades, with red, high intensity barricade tape for permanent closure, with at least two Type 4 End of Road object markers installed. If the road is wider, then add barricades to ensure entire width of road is barricaded.

If the road has been closed for some time, without the proper markings, then a minimum of three Type 4, End of Road object markers should be installed with the first one in line with the center of the road and the other two in line with the center of the two driving lanes. Type 4 End of Road object markers shall be installed at a minimum height of four feet above the surface of the road. Remember to install “NO OUTLET” signs at the beginning of the road.

Numerous dead-end county roads exist where a private road or drive continues. Most of these situations occur in sandhills counties where autogates, other fencing gates, etc. exist. The best way to handle these situations is to install “End of County Maintenance” signs where the county road maintenance ends and encourage the landowner to install “Private Property – No Trespassing” signs at the beginning of their private road or drive. A minimum of two Type 4 End of Road object markers should be installed on the autogate posts or on each side of the private drive. These signing suggestions should provide the county with the best defensible position in court should an accident occur on a dead-end road where a private road or drive continues.

Please contact me if you have any questions pertaining to this subject matter at 402-310-4417 or Be Safe.