Motor vehicle accidents injure millions of people and kill thousands more each year. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, motor vehicle accidents caused 3.9 million injuries in 2012, costing a total of $276.5 billion. Moreover, as we recently reported, motor vehicle crashes one of the primary causes of unintentional personal injury deaths.
Car accidents and other motor vehicle accidents can happen for any number of reasons, but the following are the most prevalent auto accident dangers:
- Lack of seat belt use. More than half of the passenger vehicle occupants that were killed in 2012 were not wearing a seat belt. When seat belts are used properly, they are shown to reduce the risk of death to front-seat passengers by 45% and reduce the risk of injury by 50%. Motorcycle helmets are estimated to be 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcyclists.
- Drunk driving. In 2012, 10,322 people were killed in drunk driving accidents – an increase of 4.6% from the previous year. National Safety Council reports that male drivers between the ages of 21 and 34 are most likely to be involved in a fatal crash involving alcohol. The cost of alcohol-related crashes was estimated to be $31.9 billion. All states and the District of Columbia current make it illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher.
- Speeding. According to the National Safety Council, speeding was a factor in approximately 30% of all traffic fatalities in 2012, killing an average of 28 people each day. The total number of speeding-related fatalities was 9,176. Young drivers are even more susceptible to speeding-related deaths, with 39% of traffic fatalities involving young drivers between the ages of 15 and 19.
- Distracted driving. Recent studies show that cell phone use while driving increases the risk of getting into an accident by four hundred percent. The National Safety Council estimates that approximately 25% of all motor vehicle accidents involve drivers talking on a cell phone or texting. Moreover, studies show that there is no significant difference between handheld and hands-free cell phone use in terms of driving safety. In fact, cell phone use while driving lengthens a driver’s reaction time by about 0.25 seconds, regardless of whether a handheld or hands-free phone is used. Nonetheless, 12 states – including Illinois – and the District of Columbia have implemented bans on handheld cell phones while driving. Moreover, a National Safety Council poll found that 73 percent of respondents favor stricter laws regarding texting while driving and 52 percent of respondents supported a point system that could lead to the loss of a driver’s license or higher car insurance costs for violations. About half of respondents supported large fines, and half said there should be different levels of penalties for first and repeat offenders.
- Large commercial trucks. In 2012, more than 3,900 traffic fatalities involved a large truck, with the majority of the deaths involving occupants of vehicles other than the truck. Moreover, large trucks are more likely to be involved in a multi-vehicle crash than cars or other passenger vehicles.
- Motorcycles. Fatalities involving motorcycle riders and passengers increased by 33% from 2003 to 2012, and motorcycle injuries increased by approximately 44% over the same period. Even though Illinois does not require motorcyclists wear a helmet, it is highly recommended that all motorcycle riders and passengers wear a helmet since one five motorcycle accidents results in head or neck injuries, which could be reduced by the proper use of an approved helmet. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a motorcyclist not wearing a helmet is 40% more likely to die from a head injury if in a motorcycle crash than a motorcyclist who was wearing a helmet. The CDC estimates that helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69% and, in 2008 alone, more than 1,800 lives were saved by the use of helmets.
- Young drivers. Motor vehicle crashes remain the number one cause of death for U.S. teens, with young driver fatalities per miles driven three times higher than that for all drivers of passenger vehicles. Moreover, fatalities of young drivers account for more than two-fifths of overall motor vehicle fatalities. The most common cause for car accidents involving teen drivers is driver error.
- Pedestrians. About 6,100 pedestrians were killed, and another 170,000 injured, in motor vehicle accidents in 2012. Almost half of pedestrian injuries and deaths involved no fault on the part of the pedestrian, but approximately 20% were caused by the pedestrian darting into the street.
Contact a Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer
If you were injured in a car accident or a loved one died in a motor vehicle accident, you may be able to recover money damages in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Many car accident victims wonder if they should accept an insurance settlement or pursue legal action by filing a personal injury lawsuit, and a personal injury lawyer can help you decide whether it makes sense to accept an insurance settlement or to pursue legal action. It is important to consult a car accident lawyer as soon as possible, however, since there are time limitations on when a claim can be filed.
The Chicago car accident lawyers at Ankin Law Office, LLC focus on representing the victims of auto accidents and we can help you obtain maximum financial recovery following a motor vehicle accident. Contact our office at (312) 600-0000 today for a free consultation with one of our Chicago auto accident lawyers.