U.S. drivers beware: in 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded the highest increase in the number of automobile accidents in nearly 50 years. Last year, our country lost 35,092 people due to motor vehicle crashes, a 7.2 percent increase from 2014 when that number was 32,744.
Injuries were up also, from 2.34 million to 2.44 million people hurt, maimed, disfigured or paralyzed in automotive accidents. And the worst news yet: fatalities increased in almost every population segment including passengers, drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists.
The most dangerous thing most of us do each day is getting into our cars. We all want to avoid being the victim of a car accident, so what should we do? There are some smart behaviors we can adopt to avoid being injured in car accidents:
- Drive Sober.
The highest risk factor for having a car accident is driving while impaired, either from consumption of alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription drugs. The statistics don’t lie: 33% ‒ that’s one in three ‒ of fatal accidents in the United States are caused by drunk drivers. Don’t become a statistic! In Virginia, a driver with blood alcohol concentration below the legal limit of 0.08 percent could still be considered impaired and could cause an accident. It’s wise to adopt a zero tolerance policy for driving after consuming any alcohol whatsoever.
- Avoid Peak Accident/ Weekend Wee Hours
The NHTSA monitors the deadliest time periods for drivers. In general, more accidents occur at night than during the day. Friday and Saturday nights between 12 midnight and 3 a.m. are the deadliest times on our nation’s roads. During those time periods, a whopping two out of three ‒ that’s 66% ‒ of the accidents involve alcohol-impaired drivers. Best to stay off the roads during those dangerous hours!
- Stay Alert.
Keeping your eyes on the road is crucial to your ability to react quickly to circumstances that could cause an accident. If you’re using a cell phone, changing the radio station, or putting on make-up, your eyes are not on the road. These risky behaviors will eventually cause an accident. As Richmond auto accident attorneys, we see dozens of serious injuries caused by distracted driving each year. Distracted driving caused 3,477 fatal crashes in 2015; an increase of 8.8% from the 3,197 in the previous year.
- Ease Up, Leadfoot.
Second only to driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, speeding is the next single largest cause of auto accidents, causing about 30% of all fatal accidents in the United States. Auto manufacturers are introducing technology that limits a driver’s ability to speed, known as intelligent speed adaptation. This technology is already popular in Europe, where speeding tickets are exorbitantly expensive. Similar safety-enabling technology is slowly making its way into American automobiles. Until this tech becomes the norm, you’ll have to rely on your senses to keep your car within speed limits. Driving the speed limit could save both your life and your bank account balance!
- Click That Seatbelt.
It’s Virginia law: everyone under the age of 18 must be safely secured by a seat belt or child safety seat in a moving motor vehicle. Passengers in the front seat must also be wearing their seatbelts, no matter their age. As the driver, it’s your responsibility to ensure that all passengers are properly restrained: you could get a ticket if they are not. While passengers over the age of 18 in the rear seats aren’t legally required to wear a seatbelt, studies show that the driver was twice as likely to die in a frontal crash if passengers in rear seats weren’t wearing seatbelts. Still not convinced? Some insurance companies won’t pay claims for injuries or fatalities that occur to people not wearing their seat belts.
If you’ve been hurt in an auto accident in Richmond, Virginia, call the Richmond-based auto accident lawyers of Commonwealth Law Group. We can guide on the legal actions to take if you have been injured in an auto accident in Richmond or anywhere in Virginia. Call Commonwealth Law Group for your free consultation to determine if legal action is right for you at 804.999.9999. Justice begins here.