Types of Auto Accidents
The number of accidents resulting from distracted driving, drowsiness and drunk driving is very alarming. As attorneys who represent injured victims of people included in these statistics, we felt it was important to cover in detail the types of behavior that causes suffering to innocent folks.
Falling Asleep At the Wheel
We all know there is an increasing shortage of sleep problem in the United States. Not surprisingly, the problem of not getting enough sleep is spilling into our roads. A recent CDC study said that 4.2% of adults have admitted to falling asleep at the wheel within the previous month. This is an alarming statistic. California is said to have the 3rd highest rate of drivers who snooze at the wheel. Keep in mind this number is actually low because some people do not realize they have fallen asleep or simply fail to admit it for whatever reason.
It won’t come as a surprise that hard working adults between the ages of 25 and 34 are said to be the highest at risk for driving while fatigued or drowsy. Many of these types of crashes occur closer to the end of the day when people are getting off work while feeling tired.
The National Sleep Foundation conducted a poll in 2005 to find out how many drivers have driven while drowsy during the preceding year. Results showed an astonishing 60% of adults admitting to being behind the wheel while drowsy. For more information about drowsy driving visit DrowsyDriving.org
In 2011, California saw over 700 driving fatalities due to alcohol impairment. Just over 2,200 individuals survived drunk-driving accidents the same year. According to the CDC, almost one third of all driving deaths involve drunk drivers nationwide. It is clear that drunk driving is still a major problem in United States and the State of California despite heavy awareness promotion and outreach.
Nearly one third of all driving deaths involve drunk drivers.
Perhaps the most alarming fact is that one out of every three drunk drivers nationwide who suffered a fatal injury was between the ages of 21 and 24. These young drivers are closely followed by the 25 to 34 age group – at exactly one third of reported fatal crashes. Young drivers put themselves and everyone else at risk when drinking and driving.
In California, the legal Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit is 0.08 percent “Per se”. This means that once this limit has been established, a DUI case can be made against the impaired driver without further evidence probing. Many people fail to realize that is the legal limit that determines whether they are impaired, not their own judgment of how drunk they are. Even if a person passes the on-scene sobriety test, they can still be declared legally impaired.
Perhaps the most common type of accident, rear-end collisions occur when one vehicle runs into another from behind due to being unable to stop in time. Many of such accidents can be blamed for speeding and inattention. In California in particular it is easy to see why rear-end collisions are a frequent occurrence. Drivers often travel too fast and too close without any regard to stopping time or distance. People are always trying to get somewhere in a hurry and seem to be content with sacrificing their lives just to get seconds ahead by breaking important driving rules.
Out of all crashes reported in 2008, nearly a third were rear-end collisions.
Distractions are another major concern for public policy makers. Distracted driving has become a growing problem not only nationwide but in California and Los Angeles in particular. We wrote a blog post on distracted driving not long ago, describing how the “ear bud epidemic” was responsible for over 3,000 deaths in 2010.
Distracted driving has become such a problem that the U.S. Government created a website dedicated entirely to distraction awareness. The website includes alarming statistics by prominent trade associations, institutes and universities from all over the states.
In 2008, Science Daily reported that out of nearly 6 million crashes recorded in 2006 nearly a third were rear-end collisions. According to a university study, drivers are not able to detect that a car in front of them is slowing down unless it’s faster than 8-10 miles per hour. A collision warning system was proposed as a solution to this inability to determine minor speed change.
Typical rear-end collision injuries include:
- Damage to the soft tissue of the cervical spine, also known as whiplash
- Damage to the spinal cord
- Damage to the soft tissue of the thoracic and lumbar spine
- Head injuries including face and neck damage (especially when headrests are absent)
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), side collisions are responsible for over a quarter of all passenger vehicle deaths. This frequency is attributed to lesser vehicle body protection as you would typically have in a head-on or rear-end collision. The side of the vehicle is typically less fragile and often contains only an airbag. That airbag is only good if deployed on time and the driver’s head is positioned so that it touches it instead of the frame. Shorter persons find themselves at greater risk for serious injury in side-impact collisions because the air bag doesn’t always align properly, resulting in the head hitting the frame of the vehicle.
In a rollover accident, the vehicle flips to the side or the roof usually as a result of turning sharply at great speeds. Older vehicles, cars with poor stability equipment and SUV’s are often involved in rollovers.
Some people believe SUV’s are a safer choice for a vehicle because they are bulkier, failing to consider that they’re more likely to roll over and result in fatal injuries. In fact, the 39 percent of Americans who feel more powerful in an SUV (according to a National Consumer Survey of 2005) may be mistaken. SUV rollovers comprised 37 percent of fatal crashes compared to 15 percent for cars, according to the same survey.
SUV rollovers comprised 37 percent of fatal crashes compared to 15 percent for cars.
Rollovers are also said to be the most dangerous type of crash that results in fatality. Page 3 of the“Characteristics of Fatal Rollover Crashes” report by U.S. Department of Transportation shows just how deadly light trucks and SUV’s are in comparison to cars when it comes to a rollover.
CAUSE FOR INJURIES AND FATALITIES
Studies find that most rollover accident deaths occurred due to lack of seat belt use by passengers. Ejected passengers (those who did not wear a seat belt) were nearly twice as likely to die. Speeding has been cited as a major factor in cause of rollover accidents.
If you had to guess how most head-on collisions occur, what would you say? You may be thinking that most head-on collisions occur when one vehicle tries to pass another. Or, you might even venture to say vehicles smash head-on in construction zones. Either one of those guesses would be wrong. Most head-on collisions occur in non-passing situations, typically on a rural two-lane undivided road according to a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Highway Safety Information Systems (HSIS) studies.
WHAT IS CAUSING HEAD-ON COLLISIONS?
Although nobody knows exactly, head-on collision statistics seem to point finger at drivers making (and we’re quoting) “unintentional” maneuvers. With all of the distractions that exist in today’s vehicles, it may be easy conclude that distracted driving makes up a large number of such maneuvers. From eating and drinking, phones, music devices, texting, limited hearing; it could be that people are simply not paying full attention to the road.
Another recent development suggests that more and more drivers are falling asleep at the wheel. It could be that drivers doze off, look up at the road and swerve to avoid an object or a vehicle in front of them.
Who is Liable?
Cell Phone Distractions
Cell phone use can also cause the driver to be distracted and unable to pay as much attention to the road as they should when driving. One distraction that happens often is taking your eyes off the road to answer your mobile phone. Even though you may only take your eyes off the road for just for a few seconds, those few seconds can make a difference in whether or not you can see and react to a situation fast enough or not. This is especially true if you have to reach down on the floorboard to retrieve a dropped phone.
Talking drivers may also get into an emotional conversation and be too upset to notice the situation on the road ahead of them. One example of this would be not seeing a child crossing the road because you were upset at the time and were not directing your full concentration to the road.