Traffic accident deaths in the United States increased 6 percent to 40,200 in 2016, according to estimates released by the National Safety Council (NSC). According to an article in The New York Times, the two-year increase, 14 percent, is the largest recorded in more than half a century. It is the first time since 2007 that more than 40,000 people have died in car accidents in a singe year. These steep increases have been attributed to an improving economy putting more drivers on the road.
The data also shows an increase in distracted driving proving that despite more apps and other features designed to keep drivers' eyes on the road, other apps like Facebook, Snapchat and Google Maps have created new, hard-to-resist temptations for drivers. Government officials say, more than anything else, these deaths have been caused by lax enforcement of seatbelt laws, drunken driving and speeding regulations by authorities and reluctance on the part of legislators to pass more restrictive measures.
Lack of Proper Safety Laws
Safety advocates say a patchwork of state laws still leaves many areas where drivers can choose to not wear a seatbelt. Only 18 states have laws requiring seatbelts for both front and rear occupants and categorize not buckling up as a primary offense, which means that they can be pulled over just for not wearing a seatbelt. Over the decades, what's killing drivers has remained the same - lack of seatbelts, alcohol and speed.
About half of all traffic accident fatalities nationwide involved vehicle occupants who are not buckled up. Nearly a third involve drivers who were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). What's more, in several states such as Alabama budget cuts have reduced the number of troopers patrolling the state's highways resulting in an increase in high-speed crashes.
Driver Negligence and Car Accidents
As Orange County car accident attorneys, we see that a majority of car accidents occur due to driver negligence. Here are some of the most common examples of driver negligence that result in serious injury or fatal car accidents in Orange County:
Driving while impaired: Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs causes one-third of fatal car accidents nationwide. According to the California Highway Patrol, that is true for Orange County as well. In 2013, 36 percent of the county's fatal car accidents involving drivers who were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Distracted driving: Any action that takes a driver's hands of the wheel, eyes off the road or attention away from the act of driving can prove distracting. Driving while talking on the cell phone or while texting or posting on social media are the most common forms of distractions we see drivers indulging in today.
Excessive speed: Failure to follow the posted speed limit or driving at an unsafe speed given traffic, roadway and weather conditions, can lead to major injury collisions. There are a number of roadways in Orange County where drivers tend to speed and we often witness fatal collisions caused by speeding drivers who lose control of their vehicles.
Running a red light or stop sign: This happens more often in Orange County than we know. When drivers fail to obey the red light or stop for a stop sign, they could cause devastating street intersection collisions.
Unsafe turns: Drivers who fail to yield the right-of-way to oncoming vehicles or make unsafe left turns or U-turns also put others on the roadway in grave danger.
Driving while fatigued: Failing to get enough sleep is also an example of driver negligence that could result in devastating car accidents. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that 21 percent of fatal motor vehicle crashes involve driver fatigue. One third of crashes involving a drowsy driver also result in injuries.
What to Do if You Have Been Injured
If you have suffered injuries in a car accident, there are a number of steps you can take in order to ensure that your rights are protected. First, make sure you remain at the scene and file a police report so your account of the incident gets in that report. Obtain a copy of the report for your own records.
Secure as much evidence as possible for the scene. This may include physical evidence, photographs, information about other parties involved in the crash, and contact information for eyewitnesses who can prove crucial when it comes to corroborating your statements. Try and write down as much notes as possible about the position of the vehicles, the time of day and other details, which you may forget with time.
Get prompt medical attention, treatment and care for your injuries. Even if you don't feel pain right away, be sure to get checked by your doctor. A number of injuries manifest over the period of several weeks. Follow through with the doctor's orders. Preserve all documents including invoices and receipts. Don't repair your vehicle or junk it until an expert has had a chance to examine it for all evidence.
Contact an experienced Orange County car accident lawyer who will remain on your side, fight for your rights and help ensure that the negligent parties are held liable for your injuries, damages and losses.
Seeking Compensation for Your Losses
The value or worth of your claim will often depend on the nature and extent of your injuries. Injured victims of car accidents, depending on the circumstances of the incident, can seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitative treatments, pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Dealing with insurance companies and defense counsel during this time can be extremely tricky. You need a knowledgeable car accident attorney on your side who is experienced in handling cases similar to yours will be able to identify and successfully pursue all avenues of compensation resulting in the best possible outcome. Call Timothy J. Ryan & Associates at (800) 838-6644 to schedule a no-cost consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.