Fatal car accidents had been declining in recent years, with numbers declining from 2005 through 2011. But an upturn in 2012 reversed the trend, and the nationwide toll increased by about 5 percent to roughly 32,600 deaths. Every 12 minutes on the average, another American is killed in a car accident. Traffic fatalities remain near the top of the list of all causes of death, and they are the number one cause of wrongful death among people under 35.
Most fatal car accidents in California could be prevented. Many are caused by driver carelessness or negligence. When a driver’s negligent driving causes the death of a pedestrian, bicyclist, or occupant of another car, certain of the victim’s surviving family members are entitled to recover money as compensation for their loved one’s wrongful death. While money can never truly compensate for a human life, making these negligent drivers take accountability for the misery they’ve caused can help bring closure for a grieving family.
DRIVER NEGLIGENCE THAT CAUSES FATALITIES
Four negligent driver behaviors, often in combination, cause most fatal car accidents:
- Distracted driving: Nearly everyone now has a cell phone, which means cell phone use and texting while driving is becoming more common. A driver who is texting, whether sending or receiving a message, is at a 23 times greater risk of being involved in a wreck. Children, pets, other passengers; using the radio, GPS, or other electronic devices, reading a map or directions; eating or drinking; and looking at billboards, or rubbernecking are distractions that increase the likelihood of a fatal accident. Driver distraction is a factor in about 80 percent of all traffic accidents.
- Driving under the influence (DUI or DWI): Alcohol is a factor in almost a third of all fatal car accidents. An alcohol-related traffic fatality occurs on the average of one every 50 minutes.
- Speeding and driving aggressively: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that speeding and aggressive driving contribute to roughly a third of all fatal accidents.
- Driver fatigue: A driver who is sleep-deprived often fails to observe traffic signals and signs, bicyclists and pedestrians, or other cars and may drift into the opposite lane into the path of oncoming traffic or drive off the road into a tree, electric pole, or embankment.
TWO ACCIDENT TYPES MOST LIKELY TO CAUSE FATALITIES
Two accident types lead the rest in producing fatalities: head-ons and t-bones.
Head-on: The type of accident most likely to result in someone’s death is a head-on crash. Comprising only 2 percent of traffic collisions, head-ons account for approximately 10 percent of traffic fatalities in the United States.
T-Bone: The next most likely type of accident to result in fatalities is the T-bone collision, a direct side impact crash. T-bones often occur at intersections, typically when a driver runs a stop sign or red light. T-bones are responsible for more than 9,000 deaths annually.
When a member of your family has died in a fatal car crash, you should engage the services of an experienced Modesto car accident lawyer, preferably one who only practices personal injury and wrongful death law.