Posted in Car Accident on June 19, 2018
For victims, car accidents can seem like random, chaotic, and even unavoidable events that leave a path of pain and destruction in their wake. But multiple studies conducted in recent years have shown that more than 90 percent of car accidents that occur in the U.S. are due to driver error.
Despite new and advanced safety features in vehicles and an increasing emphasis on safe driving by law enforcement organizations and governmental safety organizations, traffic deaths in the U.S. have risen in recent years. Studies show that the number of auto accident fatalities have exceeded 40,000 two years in a row, with the National Safety Council estimating that 40,100 people were killed on American roadways in 2017.
Some lawmakers and safety officials hope that self-driving vehicles will help mitigate the large number of traffic deaths in the U.S., but widespread adoption may be decades away. In the meantime, it’s up to all drivers to be as safety conscious as possible when they’re behind the wheel. Given that a significant majority of crashes are caused by driver mistakes, being cautious and attentive can go a long way towards reducing the risk of accidents for everyone who shares Tennessee’s roadways.
Combatting Risky Driving Behaviors Is Everyone’s Responsibility
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) website lists six primary factors that are involved in human error-related car accidents:
Nearly 30 people are killed in drunk driving-related crashes in the U.S. every day. The NHTSA says that alcohol-related accidents and fatalities have dropped by one-third since the late 1980s, but more than 10,000 lives are still lost due to impaired drivers annually.
Drunk driving enforcement is one of the biggest priorities of law enforcement departments in Tennessee and throughout the country, and officers are always on the lookout for impaired drivers. Despite enforcement and educational programs, people still get behind the wheel when they’re over the limit.
It’s illegal in all 50 states to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher, but more than 300,000 people drive while impaired every day. In addition, studies show that average drunk drivers don’t get caught until they’ve violated DUI laws at least 80 times.
Reducing the risks of drunk driving is as simple as arranging alternate transportation to get home, such as appointing a designated driver, calling a cab or taxi, using public transportation, or using a ridesharing app.
The widespread usage of smartphones and other electronic devices—including ones built in to vehicles—has significantly increased the risk of distracted driving-related crashes in recent years. The NHTSA reports that 3,450 lives were lost due to distracted driving accidents in 2016 and an additional 391,000 people were injured.
While all forms of distraction can be deadly, texting while driving is one form that gets plenty of attention. That’s because texting is especially distracting, and studies show that it takes around five seconds to send or read a text message. During that time, a vehicle traveling at 55 miles per hour can travel the length of a football field.
While hands-free devices can help reduce some of the risks associated with using smartphones and texting while driving, they don’t eliminate them. The best way to avoid distracted driving dangers is to make phone calls or send and read text messages before and after you drive. If you need to urgently make a phone call or use your smartphone, pull over to a safe location to do so.
The average 2018 model year vehicle is equipped with a bevy of safety features, including advanced stability control, lane departure warnings, and even crash avoidance systems. In addition, air bags have never been more effective at reducing the impact of crashes than those found in many modern vehicles.
However, no safety feature is as important or life saving as the ordinary seat belt. Since its introduction to vehicles and widespread adoption in the ensuing decades, seat belt usage has become common, and more than 90 percent of people nationwide buckle up on a regular basis. But 10 percent of Americans not using their seat belts means that there are still nearly 30 million unbuckled drivers on U.S. roadways.
While seat belts saved nearly 15,000 lives in 2016 alone, the NHTSA estimates that an additional 2,456 lives would have been saved if everyone buckled up every time they drove or rode in a vehicle. Nearly half of all of the people killed in auto accidents in 2016 weren’t buckled up. And without wearing a seat belt, other safety features, including air bags, are less effective and even dangerous.
Reducing this risk is easy and takes just a few seconds every time you get in your vehicle. But buckling up isn’t something you should do every now and then or just on long trips—it should be done every time you get in a vehicle. Creating a habit isn’t just good for your own safety, but it will also set a good example for your children.
Although many people assume drugged driving refers to driving under the influence of illegal narcotics, it can also refer to driving after taking prescription and over-the-counter medications.
Any substance that causes impairments in cognition, fine motor skills, reaction times, visual acuity, and judgment can increase the risk of crashes. That means drivers should be aware of the risks associated with getting behind the wheel after consuming a wide variety of drugs.
Drugged driving is extremely common. The NHTSA reports that 20 percent of weekend drivers who responded in a 2013-2014 survey tested positive for drugs that could impair their ability to safely drive vehicles.
Although it’s still illegal to possess and use in Tennessee, marijuana is being decriminalized or legalized in many states. However, studies show that marijuana’s effects can be detrimental to safe driving, as it can impair motor skills, lane tracking, and cognitive functions.
The dangers of drugged driving can be reduced or eliminated by never driving after consuming drugs and by speaking to your doctor about whether you should drive before you take a new prescription or over-the-counter medication.
Exceeding the speed limit in a vehicle is comparable to drunk driving in terms of the lives it costs every year in the U.S. The NHTSA reports that 10,111 people were killed in speed-related crashes in 2016, accounting for more than one-quarter of all fatal traffic accidents that year.
Speed limits are carefully chosen for all roads, whether they’re two-lane rural roads or multi-lane highways and interstates. Speeding increases the risk of accidents and fatalities in several ways, such as decreasing the amount of control drivers have over their vehicles, increasing the stopping distance of their vehicles, and increasing the severity of injuries when crashes occur.
The NHTSA says that speeding occurs primarily due to four reasons: a desire to escape from or navigate around traffic, a need to arrive at a destination faster due to impatience or running late, the knowledge that a driver is anonymous and won’t get caught, and a blatant disregard for the safety of others and traffic laws.
Speeding is both a dangerous and voluntary behavior, and you can avoid it by keeping an eye out for speed limit signs and staying out of the left—or passing—lane when driving on highways and interstates. Using your vehicle’s cruise control setting can also help you maintain a safe speed, but be sure to turn it off in heavy traffic or when driving during inclement weather.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than one third of Americans don’t get enough sleep at night, with around 40 percent sleeping fewer than six hours per night. With so many demands on families and individuals, it’s hard for many people to fit eight hours of sleep into their schedules, but study after study shows how essential a full night of sleep is for well-being and safety behind the wheel.
Drivers who are sleep deprived are more likely to be involved in crashes, as they can experience physical and cognitive impairments that are similar to those experienced by people who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The NHTSA reports that exhaustion-related accidents were a factor in 2.2 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2015, and 4,121 people lost their lives in those types of crashes between 2011 and 2015.
Avoiding or reducing the risk of sleep-deprivation-related crashes involves a multi-pronged approach to improve sleep quality. That not only involves getting a full night of sleep, but also going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day whenever possible—even on weekends.
In addition, you should be cautious before driving if you take medications that cause drowsiness. If you feel drowsy while you’re behind the wheel, pull over to a safe location, such a designated rest stop, and take a brief nap. Even 20 minutes of shut-eye is enough to re-energize exhausted drivers and help them get home safely.
Matt Hardin Law Knows Accident Causes and Injury Claims
At Matt Hardin Law, our Nashville car accident attorneys have helped auto crash victims for 30 years. During that time, we’ve seen and investigated all manner of accident causes. While no two accidents are the same, most accidents are caused by one or more of the factors listed above—and they’re often the result of negligence.
If you or someone you love was hurt in an accident that wasn’t your fault, get in touch with us today. We know what you’re going through, and we want to help take the financial burden of the crash off your shoulders while you focus on getting better.
Contact us today at (615) 200-1111 or fill out a free online form to get in touch with our legal team. We’ll calculate how much the accident has and will continue to cost you in terms of medical bills and lost wages, and we’ll make sure the insurance company knows how much you’re owed. Call now—we’re ready to put our experience to work you and your loved ones.