There are a variety of causes for motor vehicle accidents in the United States, and topping the list are distracted drivers and driving while intoxicated. Youth, inexperience, excessive speed, and fatigue also contribute to accidents. Many of these accidents are preventable, and there are steps you can take to keep you and your family safe. If you have been involved in an accident, Barbara S. Williams can help you protect your rights and get what you deserve.
Protect Yourself: Know What Causes Vehicle Accidents
According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) there were over 2.5 million injuries and over 42 thousand deaths due to motor vehicles in 2006. What is causing all of these accidents? If you have driven America’s roads lately, you can probably guess what causes the most accidents just by looking in the vehicles around you – driver distraction. Driver distractions take many forms: ringing cell-phones, meals at the wheel, playing with the stereo or portable music player, and even reading or applying make-up while driving. Even something as simple as talking with the vehicle passengers can distract a driver enough to cause an accident.
Cell-phone use: One of the most contentious driver distraction issues is cell-phone use. Many drivers believe that they can talk on the phone and drive at the same time with no adverse effects, but research tells us otherwise – even so called hands-free devices do not lower the risk of accident. Laws have been enacted in a number of states to limit the use of cell-phones by drivers, but the effectiveness of such laws and driver compliance has yet to be determined.
Drinking and Driving: Another major cause of accidents and death on the road are drivers who get behind the wheel while intoxicated. In 2006 alcohol was involved in a full 41% of all fatalities, with 39% of fatalities in the State of Virginia caused by alcohol consumption. Even “one or two drinks” can kill – 14% of deaths involved a low blood-alcohol level of between 0.01 and 0.07 BAC, with the remaining alcohol related deaths are attributed to blood alcohol levels of 0.08 and above – which is above the legal limit. The importance of securing a designated driver cannot be stressed enough, and if you can prevent friends and acquaintances from getting behind the wheel after a night of revelry – you may very well save a life.
Speeding: Not surprisingly, driving above the speed limit or even driving faster than is prudent for road conditions (i.e. driving too fast in inclement weather) contributes to accidents as well. In Virginia alone, 31% of fatal crashes involved excessive speed. Experts have found that drivers whose friends and family approve of speeding are most likely to speed, so your own attitude about road safety can have an impact on those you love.
Tired Drivers: Getting behind the wheel when you are tired is another no-no. Recent research has found that sleepy drivers are four times as likely to be involved in a crash or a near-miss, which is a much higher rate than previously believed.
New Drivers: Youth and inexperience can also lead to car accidents. In 2006, 3,406 drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 were killed, with young males account for 73% of these fatalities. Experts recommend that young drivers drive mid-size or large passenger cars, which are more forgiving of an inexperienced driver and better protect occupants in a crash. However, researchers have found that teens tend to drive older, smaller vehicles or pick-up trucks and SUVs instead, which can increase their chances of being injured or killed in an accident. Parental involvement is also important in keeping teens safe – research has found that young drivers whose parents enforce strict driving rules are less likely to be involved in traffic violations or accidents. Restricting young drivers from being out at night – when limited visibility makes driving difficult for the inexperienced – is especially important. Finally, young drivers are more likely to be distracted by electronic gadgets like cell-phones, MP3 players, and navigation systems. Keeping these gadgets out of the hands of young drivers while they are at the wheel is important to keeping them and their passengers safe.
Motorcycle Accidents: Motorcycle deaths increased in 2006 for the ninth year in a row, bringing the total number of motorcycle fatalities to 4,810. Experts speculate that the bigger, faster bikes available today – paired with inexperienced riders – are part of the reason. Registrations for high-performance “super bikes”, some of which can be purchased with over 160 horsepower engines, are on the rise – as are the death rates. In fact, 22.5 “super bike” deaths are expected for every 10,000 registered motorcycles. Deaths of older riders are also on the rise – the death rate for motorcyclists over the age of 40 has increased 23% in the last 10 years.
Seatbelt Use: If you are unlucky enough to be involved in an accident, take note – more than half of vehicle passengers are not wearing seatbelts when they are killed in a vehicle accident. In fact, 62% of people killed in Virginia motor vehicle accidents were not wearing seatbelts. As you can see, the simple act of buckling your seatbelt and insisting that your passengers buckle theirs as well can save lives.
Have you or someone you love been injured in a vehicle accident by a negligent driver? Whatever the cause of your accident, Barbara S. Williams wants to help you recover from your traumatic ordeal. Please contact us today to discuss your case at absolutely no cost and take the first step towards justice.
Barbara Williams, P.C.: Shielding the Injured from the Injustice of Insurance Companies In:
Sterling, Herndon, Ashburn, Cascades, Countryside, Front Royal, Winchester, Berryville, Frederick County, Luray, Page County, Clarke County, Shenandoah County, Warren County