The Causes And Implications Of Highway Accidents

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Legally reviewed by:

Erik Abrahamson, J.D. February 13, 2018

Since the introduction of the American automobile, we have led very busy and mobile lives. Our lives have been made simpler, our time spent more efficiently, through the speed and reliability of our cars. Americans drive an estimated 2.45 trillion miles per year on US roads and highways.

What began as a means to progress society with upward mobility and freedom, became more than that. Many Americans are now unable to work without a car and while driving for pleasure on the scenic road is still a pastime, we now drive out of necessity. Work, school, errands, appointments, shopping, and entertainment keep us in our cars and on the roads.

Causes of Highway Crashes

With upward mobility and freedom also came accident and injury. Cars are still machines of metal and parts, and as careful a driver as we ourselves may be, we can’t control another person’s driving ability nor external conditions which can lead to car accidents. Weather, faulty infrastructure, unsafe road environments and other hazards are reasons for car accidents although The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finds that drivers themselves are responsible for car crashes 94 percent of the time.

In Florida, the increasing population and tourism industry has created an environment of high-volume traffic and Florida ranks annually as one of the highest traffic fatality rates in the nation. Last year, there were over 395,000 traffic accidents in the Sunshine State with more than 254,000 injuries and more than 3,000 deaths due to injuries sustained in those accidents.

Alcohol and speed once topped the list of reasons for car accidents and crashes in the United States. In 2017, the number one cause of Highway and road accidents in the nation is distracted driving. Whether someone was texting, talking on their phones, taking their eyes off the road to brush away dropped food or change the radio dials, distracted drivers caused more damage, injuries, and fatalities than any other driver on the road.

In November, I-4 in Orlando, Florida was named the deadliest highway in the country with more fatalities than the actual length of the highway. There were 165 fatalities along this 132 mile stretch of highway, which connects the cities of Tampa, Orlando and Daytona Beach.

Our commutes home from work can be dangerous when we are tired, stressed, hungry, and in a hurry. Driving the same routes to and from work, during the same times of day, have caused our muscle memory to allow us to drive almost on auto-pilot and we may not be as vigilant as we should be. Muscle memory assists us in holding our eating utensils, writing, dancing, even breathing. We don’t think about doing those things, we just do them.

There are 20.98 million people living in the state of Florida. The Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR) estimates that in 2045, they expect to see the population at over 30 million people, and in 2016, there were 113 million tourists who flocked to Florida for the sun, sites, and relaxation. In 2002 the tourist statistic was 73 million.

The other factor in car crashes which still remain high is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In 2016, Florida saw more than 29 people per day lose their lives due to a crash involving an impaired driver, and there were 9,744 alcohol-related accidents. 21 to 34-year-olds are still the biggest age group to drink and drive.

There were 10,111 fatalities due to speeding last year in the United States, That is a staggering number of deaths that could have been prevented. Whether it was the driver themselves who were speeding or another driver who caused an accident, driving over the speed limit is a serious factor in highway accidents.

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The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) found that in 2017, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Hillsborough counties had the highest rate of speeding or aggressive drivers in Florida. There are many types of personalities on our roads and highways. Being aware that even though you are a vigilant and careful driver, other drivers may not be, can help keep you safe by making you more alert to your surroundings while driving and the possibility of situations and conditions which cause accidents.

Around 24 percent of drivers who are speeding and involved in car accidents which lead to fatalities do not have valid driver’s licenses at the time of the crash according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 26 percent of those unlicensed drivers had a previous incident of being involved in an accident without a valid license.

Approximately 2.3 million people each year are injured in road and highway accidents across the nation. The major factors of injuries and fatalities remain distracted driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and speeding. Here are just a few more common causes of highway car accidents:

  • Reckless Driving
  • Night Driving or Vision Impairment
  • Structural Road Damage
  • Tailgating
  • Unsafe Lane Changing and Turns
  • Weather
  • Tire Blowouts
  • Falling Asleep
  • Pedestrians Running Out Into the Road / Protestors
  • Sudden Medical Emergency Which Impairs a Driver

The Consequence Of Accidents

Each year, car accidents and crashes cause untold damage, injury, and heartache. The financial and economic distress which result has skyrocketed to an estimated annual cost of over $870 billion.

In Florida, The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (CDC) reports an annual cost of $3.02 billion spent on crash-related deaths, $2.99 billion due to loss of income and $32 million in medical costs in any given year with those figures climbing with crash statistics.

An auto injury insurance claims study by the Insurance Research Council’s (IRC) reveals that the cost of medical bills due to injuries from car crashes are increasing faster than the rate of inflation in the United States. This is sobering news. The cost of medical care, lost wages, and out-of-pocket expenses are paid by insurance companies, the victims themselves out-of-pocket, third parties, and charities.

How much a car accident will cost varies from accident to accident. The elements involved in each individually unique case determines the cost. Some, but not all, of the factors involved include:

  • Death
  • The Severity of Injuries
  • Loss of Income
  • Amount of Property Damage
  • Number of Passenger and Injuries
  • Legal Costs
  • Standard of Life Post-Accident
  • Insurance Costs

One of the first steps anyone should do after a car accident that involves damage or injury is to contact an attorney who understands the law and is experienced in dealing with insurance companies and serious complications that the nature of car accidents present.

Courts can become overwhelmed with the number of cases they must handle due to car accidents each year. An experienced attorney can ensure that all aspects of your case are considered and that your case is not rushed or prolonged without good cause.

Driving is a serious responsibility. It is not a right but a privilege. Because our automobiles are an integral part of our lives, we must keep them operable, safe, and legal. Expecting to be in a car crash when we leave home each day is not something we think about and can’t really prepare for. But we can be vigilant in our own driving and always cautious of other drivers on the roads and highways.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of another, call our accident attorneys who will provide a free case evaluation, with no obligation. Call now: 1-800-538-4878

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Related Resources:

Types of Car Accidents – Part 1

Types of Car Accidents – Part 2