Vehicle-related accidents are a staggering and prevalent occurrence in the U.S. Nearly one percent of the entire population will be involved in a car accident this year. A 2009 report released by the International Traffic Safety Data and Analysis Group (IRTAD) indicated that in the U.S., 12.3 road fatalities occurred per 100,000 inhabitants that year. Total vehicle collision-related fatalities that year were 33,808.
Of those collisions, injuries are largely determined by whether or not the occupants are wearing their seatbelts. Sixty-five percent of car accident fatalities occur when a vehicle occupant is not wearing their safety belt. Rare accidents occur where seatbelt failure contributed to a collision death, but largely they are one of the best ways to minimize the risk of injury or death while in a motor vehicle.
Most Common Factors
After seatbelts, the next factor to consider about car accidents is the use of drugs or alcohol, resulting in impaired driving and slower reaction time. Thirty-five percent of vehicle fatalities result from drinking and driving. Two-thirds of these deaths represent the drivers impaired by alcohol, while the other third are innocent victims of this crime.
Speeding is another common reason behind vehicle-related collisions. According to a report made by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding-related crashes killed 11,674 people in 2008. The same report indicated that of the young males between the ages of 15 to 20 years old who were involved in fatal accidents, at least 37 percent were speeding. Speeding was involved in thirty-one percent of all fatal crashes that same year. Research has shown that speeding and alcohol use tend to go hand-in-hand as well.
A car traveling at 60 mph can cover the distance of a football field in about three seconds. That is a sobering figure when you consider that with excessive speeds, comes a loss of reaction time. This means that if you are speeding, you are not allowing yourself an adequate amount of time to adjust your driving if something suddenly crosses your path. And by the time you see the obstruction and can react, it might be too late.
How People Are Affected by Auto Accidents
Everyone knows that car accidents are scary and sometimes life-changing events. There can even be varying degrees of psychological trauma experienced in vehicle collisions. While most car accidents are not fatal, even minor collisions can cause long-term anxiety related to cars and driving. Experiencing an accident can also lead to fears and phobias that further put people in danger on the road.
Aside from the emotional aftermath of a crash, you might also deal with many legal, medical and insurance-related stresses. If you experience a moderate to a severe accident, the cost of your injuries and related medical care can be extremely expensive. When serious injury and substantial property damage is involved, it also means you and the other drivers involved will be working with insurance companies and adjusters for the at-fault driver to come to a financial settlement. This can be a frustrating, overwhelming and intimidating experience unless you are familiar with traffic laws and ordinances, vehicle repair standards, possible personal injury litigation, and the ins and outs of the auto insurance industry.
What to Do
If you find yourself in a serious accident resulting in substantial personal injury or property damages, it is always best to consult a personal injury attorney. Even if you do not intend to sue anyone involved, hiring an attorney is beneficial in negotiating a more acceptable settlement with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Insurance adjusters are highly trained individuals who have seen nearly every accident imaginable. Even if they are very accommodating or friendly, it’s important to remember that they are working in the best interest of the insurance company, not you. Insurance company goals are designed to keep financial settlement claims at a minimum. Getting some guidance in navigating complex auto insurance claims can save you a lot of pain, time and stress in an already jarring situation.