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New Law Takes Aim at Reducing Deadly Secondary Crashes

Steve Wagner

Indiana used to charge drivers with a misdemeanor if he or she did not move their car after being involved in an accident. By mistake, the legislature repealed the law, and so there have been no requirements to move your vehicle of late. A newly enacted law, however, will go into place on July 1. The new law, states that if you have an accident causing property damage on any government-maintained road, you must move the care immediately (if it can be moved).

Such laws are important in overall policy aimed at reducing accidents, as well as fatalities caused by actions. They are focused on reducing secondary crashes—those caused by other vehicles stopped in the road due to an initial accident. They aren’t the kind of accident most people think of when car crashes come to mind, but they are far more common and deadly than one might think.

The Indiana State Police reports the following statistics on secondary crashes:

  • 22% of all accidents are secondary accidents.
  • A car left stopped in traffic after an accident increases the odds of a secondary crash by 2.8% for every minute the vehicle is left in the road.
  • 18% of all fatal car crashes result from secondary crashes.

Characteristics of Secondary Crashes

Several studies have found secondary crashes to share common characteristics. Though these characteristics do not explain or describe all secondary crashes, they are useful in looking at the factors contributing to such an accident.

As one might expect, secondary crashes are more common in urban areas. This is likely due to the sheer number of vehicles passing an incapacitated car on busier roads, as well as to the speed of cars on busier interstates in urban spaces. Relatedly, secondary crashes are far more likely to occur during rush hour. Secondary crashes are even more likely than primary crashes to take place on freeways with more than four lanes.

Two characteristics of secondary crashes are related to the collisions themselves, one being the most common type of collision in a secondary crash. Rear-end collisions account for over 2/3 of all secondary crashes. Rear-end collisions are very common as primary crashes, but studies show them to be even more common in secondary incidents. Speeding, likely impacted by fluctuating traffic speeds after a primary accident, is the most common factor in secondary crashes. As with rear-end collisions, the role of speeding in secondary crashes surpasses its role even in primary accidents.

The only marker of severity which is more likely in a secondary crash is “property damage only.” This means primary accidents are still more likely to cause severe injury or death.

Wagner Reese Attorneys Are Indianapolis Car Accident Veterans

Our experienced car accident attorneys have helped recover millions of dollars for clients injured in vehicle crashes, as well as for the families of those who have lost their lives as the result of the wrongdoing of another driver. Whether you yourself were seriously injured in a car crash or a loved one was involved in a fatal accident, we can help. We offer a FREE consultation and do not take payment of any kind until your case is won or settled. Call us at (888) 204-8440 today to get started.


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