Every year, thousands of traffic accidents happen across the country. They are a leading cause of death in the United States and a significant source of hospital emergency room visits.
Yet, even though these collisions happen for various reasons, most are often due to driver error. That is why the only way to help prevent these injury-causing and fatal vehicle accidents is to comprehend how they happen and what the leading causes of these accidents actually are. For these reasons, we have created this blog post. In it, we will go over these different vehicle collision causes and explain what you could do to try to avoid becoming an accident statistic and how a motor vehicle accident attorney can assist you.
What Are Common Factors that Result in Vehicle Collisions?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), studies indicate that driver mistakes caused around 94 percent of all motor vehicle accidents in the United States. Sadly, no matter how careful you may be on the roads, other motorists are not. Consequently, devastating accidents can happen at any time, with some of the more common causes including:
In the United States, distracted driving is one of the most common causes of automobile accidents, resulting in almost 1,000 injuries and nine deaths every day. Distracted driving is often defined as any activity that could divert attention from the primary task of driving, such as talking, changing the radio station, eating, and texting on your phone while driving. While all of these can lead to horrifying collisions, texting is one of the most dangerous activities you can do while behind the wheel. Reading or sending a text causes you to take your eyes off the road. Taking your eyes off the road for five seconds is equivalent to driving the length of a football field at 55 mph, with your eyes closed.
That is why it is imperative to remember you cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has all of your attention. Any activity you engage in while in control of a car is a potential distraction that increases your risk of crashing your automobile.
Driving Under the Influence
Everyone knows that driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be hazardous. Yet, individuals continue to take this risk and drink and drive or take drugs when operating a motor vehicle. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), there are around 10,000 people that die in an alcohol-related crash every year in the United States, with these figures accounting for approximately 28 percent of all collision deaths.
Unfortunately, no matter how sober you think you are, getting into a car while intoxicated can have a significant impact on your driving ability. This often impairs:
- Focus: Drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs can find it hard to focus on the road or even stay awake.
- Coordination: To drive safely, motorists need to coordinate their feet, hands, and sight, which can be difficult for an impaired driver.
- Reactions: Alcohol significantly slows people’s reflexes, meaning that a motorist cannot react quickly to hazards or road conditions that pop up.
- Vision: Consuming alcohol can slow a driver’s eye movement, eye muscle function, and visual perception, often resulting in blurred vision. This can be exceptionally deadly when motorists are driving at night.
- Cognition: Alcohol and drugs affect our ability to make quick, sound decisions.
Although most individuals recognize that alcohol and illicit drugs can impact their driving ability, most people may not realize that over-the-counter and prescription medications can also impact their driving. As a result, it is always important to see how medications affect you before deciding to drive.
It happens quite frequently, you are running late for work or an appointment, and you decide to drive faster than the posted speed limit. Unfortunately, driving at excessive speeds can increase your risk of being involved in a horrific accident.
Speeding is the second most common cause of road crashes in the United States, causing nearly 55 percent of all motor vehicle collisions and over 9,000 deaths each year. This is often because speeding results in you taking longer to slow down and react to road obstructions, changes in traffic, and other accidents on the roads. Consequently, motorists often lose control as they try to brake to avoid these hazards.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are four different types of speeding patterns among motorists on the road.
- Situational speeding: This speeding often involves motorists who do not typically speed but on occasion display a high level of speeding within a trip. This pattern of speeding tends to stem from situational factors such as oversleeping, traffic, or running late for an obligation.
- Incidental speeding: This type of speeding refers to motorists who do not normally speed, but when they do, they do not travel much over the posted speed limit and only do so on a small number of trips. Generally, incidental speeding is unintentional, and they do not do it throughout an entire trip.
- Casual speeding: When motorists frequently speed, but usually for only a small part of the trip, it is referred to as casual or regular seeding. This type of speeding is often attributed to systematic behaviors.
- Habitual speeding: This type of speeding results when motorists drive over the speed limit regularly and for a large portion of each trip.
Automobile collisions due to speeding can cause a greater impact on the victims involved in the crash, leading to severe injuries and more fatalities.
Aggressive driving is often defined as behavior a motorist commits that includes a combination of moving traffic offenses that endanger other individuals and property.
Generally, this unsafe driving behavior, which is performed intentionally, includes:
- Speeding when there is heavy traffic
- Cutting in front of other motorists and slowing down the car
- Running red lights
- Changing lanes without turning on a signal
- Weaving through traffic
- Blocking vehicles that are trying to change lanes or pass
When this aggressive driving escalates, it can result in road rage, which includes rude and obscene gestures, ramming, sideswiping, throwing objects at other motorists, and forcing drivers off the road.
Driving while Drowsy
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated that one in twenty-five adult motorists reported falling asleep while behind the wheel. No wonder it is estimated that drowsy driving is responsible for 72,000 automobile collisions, 44,000 injuries, and around 800 deaths annually.
Drowsy driving is defined as a combination of driving and fatigue, which occurs when an individual has not slept enough. However, it can also happen because of medications, untreated sleep disorders, shift work, and drinking alcohol.
A motorist falling asleep is dangerous, drowsy driving can also affect your ability to drive your vehicle safely, even if you do not fall asleep. Drowsiness often slows your reaction time, makes you less able to pay attention to the road in front of you, and affects your ability to make sound decisions.
Bad Weather Conditions
Poor weather conditions can cause problems for motorists. Not only do these elements affect your ability to see, but they can also impact how you respond to the situations on the road. Typically, this adverse weather can include conditions such as fog, rain, ice, and dust. However, out of all these conditions, fog is often the most dangerous and requires motorists to turn on low-beam headlights and lower their speed. If the fog is incredibly thick, it is recommended to pull the vehicle completely off the road and wait until conditions improve.
On the other hand, when you see that it is starting to drizzle or rain, you need to slow down. This is the time when many road surfaces become incredibly slippery because moisture mixes with dust and oil on the roads that have not been washed away. As a result, these slippery roads reduce a driver’s traction and cause them to lose control of their vehicle as they are driving.
However, it is not only precipitation that affects how you need to drive when weather conditions change. You also need to be aware of high winds, sun glare, and high temperatures, as these extreme weather conditions can affect your driving abilities and your car’s functioning.
Common Injuries Resulting From Motor Vehicle Accidents
While motor vehicle accidents can cause a severe injury to virtually any part of the body, the more common injuries that result from these accidents tend to include:
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
A traumatic brain injury or a TBI is a sudden injury that causes damage to the brain. It often occurs when there is a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or when an object penetrates the skull.
Symptoms of a traumatic brain injury can be mild, moderate, or severe; but the more severe symptoms often include physical and psychological problems, coma, or even death. However, even the more minor issues such as a concussion can still result in debilitating pain and harm that can cause a lifetime of problems.
Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury often involves damage to any part of the spinal cord or the nerves at the end of the spinal canal.
These injuries can cause permanent changes in sensation, strength, and other body functions below the injury site, with symptoms including:
- A loss of movement
- A loss of bladder or bowel control
- A loss of sensation, including the ability to feel touch, cold, or heat
- Spasms or other exaggerated reflex activities
- Changes in sexual sensitivity, fertility, and sexual function
- An intense stinging sensation, because of damage to the nerve fibers in the spinal cord
- Problems breathing, clearing secretions from the lungs, or coughing
Even though there is no cure for a spinal cord injury, modern-day therapies have allowed those with this traumatic injury to live productive and independent lives.
Car accidents often lead to broken or fractured bones such as broken ribs, ankles, arms, legs, and wrists. However, the severity of these breaks can range from a simple fracture that requires a cast to a compound fracture that may require intense surgery to repair.
Lacerations and Road Rash
Torn sheet metal, broken glass, and flying objects can lead to deep lacerations. Bruises are also quite common when the body is thrown against any object inside or outside the car. However, when an individual is dragged across pavement or concrete, abrasions, also known as road rash, caused by friction often result.
Even though these injuries are considered to be the more common types of harm resulting from a car crash, numerous other injuries can also occur, such as whiplash, back injuries, soft tissue injuries, burns, internal organ damage, internal bleeding, disfiguring facial injuries, crushing injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even death.
What is Typical Compensation in a Car Accident Claim?
Following a traffic collision injury, victims often face mounting medical debt, foregone income, and other severe financial losses. However, the economic toll of a car accident injury is only part of the story.
Injury victims also experience severe physical and emotional harm. Fortunately, a knowledgeable car accident attorney can help you recover compensatory damages for your harm.
In the legal context, financial recovery payments for direct monetary losses are called economic damages. Payments to compensate the injured person for their negative physical and psychological experiences are called non-economic damages.
Following are some of the typical examples of damages in tort car accident claims:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Associated property damage, including damage to the vehicle
- Related medical debt at the time of the claim
- Anticipated future costs of ongoing medical care
- Loss of income and missed wages from inability to work
- Disability and loss of physical capacity
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Related mental health care costs
- Decrease in quality of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
A traffic collision sometimes kills the victim. When this happens, the victim’s estate has the right to seek financial recovery
This is called a wrongful death case.
The decedent’s survivors may recover compensation for:
- Loss of relationship or consortium
- Loss of parental guidance or spousal companionship
- Burial costs and funerary expenses
- Emotional damage and grief
- The victim’s remaining medical bills
If a traffic accident harmed you or someone you love, speak with a skilled tort attorney. The victims of negligent drivers deserve to recover compensation for the damage they experienced.
Get the Legal Help You Need
If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries in a car accident caused by another person’s wrongful actions, it can be essential to consult with the right motor vehicle accident attorney.
These lawyers can adequately evaluate the facts of your case, determine whether you have a viable claim, and secure the evidence needed to prove what happened and who was at fault for your collision. These lawyers can also work with experts such as doctors and accident reconstructionists who can substantiate your claims and determine the full extent of your injuries and losses.
You need to remember that when you retain a legal representative, their goal is the same as yours: to secure you as much money as possible and as soon as possible. For these reasons, if a car accident disrupts your life, do not wait. Contact a personal injury lawyer today for your free case consultation, and let an attorney show you how they can protect you and your rights.