An estimated 32,788 people died in car accidents last year, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, traffic fatalities went down in most regions of the U.S., with the exception of three regions, including the Great Lakes states. While this is the lowest number of fatalities on record since 1949, there’s still a lot of room for improvement. Region 5, which includes Minnesota, saw traffic fatalities rise an estimated 3.9%.
So, what can you do reduce your risk of becoming a traffic statistic?
Avoid These Top Causes of Traffic Accidents:
1. DISTRACTED DRIVING
Research at the American Automobile Association’s Traffic Safety Division says that between 25-50% of all motor car accidents are caused by distracted driving. Distracted driving includes:
Talking on cell phones
Looking away from the road at scenery
Engaging with passengers or children
Adjusting the radio, cassette or CD player
Reading books, maps, newspapers or other documents
2. DRUNK DRIVING
The NHTSA reports that drunk drivers accounted for approximately 32% of all traffic fatalities in the United States last year. The only way to prevent this type of accident is to not drink and drive. Your best bet is to designate a sober driver in advance if you plan to consume alcohol.
Speed is one of the deadliest factors in any car accident. Not only does increased speed reduce the time you have to avoid a crash, but it also increases your risk of crashing, and it magnifies severity of the accident.
Remembering to obey posted speed limits and observing the basic speed law (never drive faster than is safe for current weather conditions) will go a long way toward making the roads safer for everyone.
4. AGGRESSIVE DRIVING
In 2009, Minnesota’s HEAT (High Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic) Program defined aggressive driving as “Driving in a manner that presents a threat to other drivers,
passengers, pedestrians, and/or bicyclists.”
Aggressive driving includes:
Unlawful or unsafe speeds
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Texting while driving
Failure to follow traffic signals (running red lights/stop signs)
Failure to yield
Following at an unsafe distance
Unsafe or illegal lane changes (weaving in and out of traffic)
Driving without a seatbelt and/or improperly belted/seated child
If you find yourself in traffic with an aggressive driver, try to keep your distance, changing lanes once it’s safe to do so. Do not attempt to pass an aggressive driver. If the driver is behind you, remain calm and adhere to all speed and safety laws – do not interact with the driver with gestures, words or other signals. If the situation escalates or you feel endangered, call 911 and report the aggressive driver.
5. INCLEMENT WEATHER
Heavy rain, hail, snow, ice, high winds and fog can make driving conditions much more difficult. Make sure you adhere to the basic speed law, traveling only as fast conditions allow, and that you provide yourself with extra time to stop and additional space between you and the car in front of you. If conditions are really bad and you feel nervous or unsure, pull off to a rest stop or restaurant until weather conditions improve.
Though accidents aren’t completely avoidable no matter how careful a driver you may be, avoiding the top 5 causes of accidents can greatly reduce your risk of being involved in a car accident.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, contact Meshbesher & Spence for a consultation with our personal injury attorneys. Our attorneys are available to visit you in the hospital, in your home, or in our offices, and they will help you determine if you will be able to recover damages for your injuries.