What is the most common cause of car accidents?By Gabriel Levin on August 29th, 2019
The National Traffic Safety Board (NHTSB) reports that since January of 2000, more Americans have died in car crashes than in both World Wars. NTSB data shows that drunk, speeding, and distracted drivers caused the majority of fatal wrecks. When it comes to vehicle collisions, the impact is often the direct result of driver negligence—their failure to use reasonable care.
When a driver makes poor choices before getting behind the wheel or while they are driving, causing you serious harm, any injuries or property damage you suffer as a result of their negligence demands justice. If you’ve been the victim of motor vehicle collision due to someone else’s reckless behavior, contact a Pennsylvania car accident lawyer without delay.
The Human Factor
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 94 percent of car crashes are the result of human error. All drivers have a responsibility to share the road and to maintain control of their own vehicle. No matter how defensively you drive, dangerous drivers are all around you, on city streets and on our nation’s highways.
Research from the National Safety Council reveals that the majority of drivers believe an accident or serious crash is likely to happen to other people, but not to them. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety made similar findings in their most recent Traffic Safety Culture Index. Most survey respondents acknowledged the dangers associated with certain behaviors behind the wheel. However, many of the same respondents also admitted to behaving in these dangerous ways.
Social pressures, new technologies, and indifference to the rules of the road create dangerous conditions for other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians on and near roadways. Too many drivers believe that their license to drive is a right when, in fact, it is a privilege.
Reckless Behavior Behind the Wheel
With 8.9 million licensed drivers in Pennsylvania, it is impossible to know what other drivers around you are doing behind the wheel. Reckless driving takes many forms and can include the following types of careless behaviors:
Distracted driving – The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that distracted driving kills 9 people and injures at least 1,000 others every day in the United States. The CDC describes distracted driving as anything including these behaviors:
- Visual distraction – When the driver takes their eyes off the road
- Manual distraction – When the driver takes their hands off the wheel
- Cognitive distraction – When the driver takes their mind off of driving
The advent of smartphones has increased incidences of distracted driving, because cell phone-using drivers often take phone calls, text, or read and send emails from behind the wheel. According to the CDC, texting involves all three of the main distracting behaviors: visual, manual, and cognitive distraction. The CDC also reports that sending or reading a text while traveling at 55 mph takes the driver’s eyes off the road for approximately 5 seconds—long enough to cover the length of a football field with their car.
Many other things besides cell phones can distract a driver while they’re behind the wheel. Applying makeup, eating, and reaching for items in the car all distract the driver from the task at hand. Navigational devices can also distract drivers when they take their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel to reprogram routes or simply to look at the screen for directions.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) – Research shows that alcohol chemically affects a person’s brain and renders them incapable of making sound decisions. Often people who drink and drive tell researchers they felt they were “invincible” and therefore capable of driving under the influence. Excuses—for they are truly excuses—people supply when defending their choice to drink and drive include:
- “I just live down the road.”
- “I don’t know how else to get home.”
- “I won’t get stopped by the police.”
While medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania, recreational marijuana is not. Driving under the influence of either recreational or medicinal marijuana can hurt a driver’s reaction time and their ability to judge distance. As with many types of medications, driving while experiencing marijuana’s side effects can affect a driver’s ability to be safe on the road.
Aggressive driving – The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 80 percent of drivers surveyed admitted to expressing significant anger while they were behind the wheel within the previous year. In today’s busy world, everyone, it seems, is in a hurry. The rush to the light, home, or to the store, often leads drivers to recklessly run red lights, tailgate, and speed.
Aggressive driving can lead to extremely dangerous behaviors. These include, but are not limited to:
- Purposely running a driver off the road
- Throwing objects at another driver
- Cursing and angry gestures toward another driver
- Sideswiping or ramming another driver
When another driver is unable to control their temper, your commute home from work can turn tragic. AAA estimates that 51 percent of drivers (104 million drivers) purposely tailgate and 47 percent (95 million drivers) yell at other drivers. No one should experience serious harm just because another driver is having a bad day or they are late for an appointment.
Drowsy driving – Many drivers are sleep deprived because of busy work and home lives. Failure to sleep at night or to get a good night’s sleep can make drivers drowsy and unfocused behind the wheel.
The National Sleep Foundation gave survey respondents five priorities and asked them to list the priorities in order of importance. The results illustrate the low priority people give to getting a good night’s rest. The top priorities of those surveyed were:
- Fitness/nutrition (35 percent)
- Work (27 percent)
- Hobbies/interests (17 percent)
- Sleep (10 percent)
- A social life (9 percent)
Just how much of a problem is drowsy driving? The CDC reports that one in 25 adult drivers (age 18 and older) admit to having fallen asleep while driving within the previous 30 days. Those most at risk for driving while drowsy are commercial drivers, people who work late shifts, and people with untreated sleep disorders.
Distracted driving, driving under the influence, aggressive driving, and driving while drowsy are all reckless behaviors. When a driver chooses to engage in negligent behavior while behind the wheel, they place everyone around them at risk for serious harm. Your trip to the store or to work should not result in a lifetime of medical care and permanent disability because of someone else’s bad decisions.
Holding a reckless driver responsible for the damage they caused requires the skills of a highly experienced personal injury lawyer. Don’t trust your case to just anyone: your recovery depends upon a successful outcome for you and your family.
Common Injuries From Collisions
The most recent data from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation shows that the 128,188 crashes reported during 2017 resulted in 80,612 injuries. These injuries included serious injuries and injuries of unknown severity. A collision’s forceful impact can result in one or more of the following types of serious injuries:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – The CDC defines a TBI as a sudden bump, blow, or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury. A TBI can affect the injured person’s cognitive and motor function and impair their senses, including vision and hearing. TBIs also sometimes lead to behavioral and emotional problems. Many patients with severe TBIs require extensive medical care for the rest of their lives.
- Spinal cord injury – A spinal cord injury disrupts communication between a person’s brain and movement and sensation in other parts of their body. A spinal cord injury is either complete or incomplete. A complete injury means that the injured person completely loses movement and sensation below the point of injury. An incomplete injury means that the injured person retains some, although often very limited, movement and sensation below the injury. Spinal cord injuries often result in paralysis, making home modifications and power chairs essential.
- Broken bones – With approximately 200 bones in the human body, a collision can result in many broken bones. A broken arm or leg can limit your mobility and your ability to do daily tasks. Broken bones in the neck or a broken back can require many surgeries, wearing a brace, and sometimes months, or even years, of physical therapy.
- Internal injuries – These types of injuries are usually not visible to the naked eye, making them especially dangerous. Even if you feel fine after an accident, seek immediate medical attention anyway. Certain hospital tests and lab work can determine if you have suffered internal injuries and treat them accordingly.
The cost of medical care continues to rise. Even if you have insurance, it often won’t cover all of your expenses if you’ve suffered a serious injury. Early settlement offers from insurance companies are attempts to limit their liability and get your case over with quickly. While the amount of money an insurance company offers may seem like a lot, chances are it will not be enough to cover your continuing medical needs. If you have experienced one or more of these serious injuries due to another driver’s reckless behavior, contact a car accident attorney today.
How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You
You can’t control other drivers’ bad decisions. You can, however, control the way you seek compensation for your injuries after an accident. Another driver’s failure to use reasonable care demands justice.
Distracted, drunk, angry, and drowsy drivers can change your life forever. No one should pay out-of-pocket for someone else’s reckless behavior. A collision is a sudden and overwhelming event. Lying in a hospital bed with multiple injuries due to someone else’s poor decisions isn’t fair. Take a deep breath and secure legal representation as soon as possible.
Don’t let aggressive insurance companies pressure you into accepting less than you deserve. Let an experienced legal team deal with the details of your case so that you can focus on your health and family.
Each case is different, but generally a car crash lawyer will attempt to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. If an automobile accident attorney cannot secure a fair settlement, make sure to hire someone who is unafraid to go to court.
Time is not on your side, so don’t delay. A motor vehicle accident lawyer will need time to work on your case. He or she may need to speak with witnesses and review evidence. Negotiations take time, and so does a trial, if it’s necessary. The statute of limitations dictates that plaintiffs file cases within a certain time frame, and evidence is always easier to find soon after an accident.
Fight for Justice
A collision is a serious event that can have catastrophic results. Medical bills and time missed from work only add to the pain and suffering. It is during this critical time immediately following the accident that you need to rest the most. Make dealing with your emotional and physical pain your primary focus.
Talking to a car accident attorney to review your case is the first step in determining the best course of action for your situation. If you are unable to travel to your lawyer’s office, look for someone who will meet with you in your home or at the hospital, who will treat you with the respect you deserve. Find someone with a reputation for maintaining clear and consistent communication throughout the process so you are never in the dark regarding your case. While there is no immediate solution to any accident victim’s situation, knowing you have the right legal representation can you peace of mind.
Let today be the first day you start pursuing accountability, justice, and possible compensation for your injuries contact a skilled attorney now. You owe it to yourself to learn more about our services and to schedule your free case evaluation.