- Motor vehicle crashes remain to be a leading cause of rising injury and fatality rates not only across the U.S. but also right here in Indiana.
- Not only are injuries from car and truck wrecks both harmful and expensive, they often cause lifelong injuries for individuals and families.
- Despite public awareness efforts, new safe driver technologies and stricter traffic laws, for nearly a decade the same top five reasons are behind this issue.
- The cause and effect of low seat belt usage, improper fitting or lack of child safety seats, drivers who choose to operate while impaired and those who text while driving or are distracted, remain at fault for each day’s serious injuries and related traffic fatalities.
5 Causes Behind High Personal Injury and Death Rates in Indiana
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 32,000 people are killed and two million are injured each year from motor vehicle crashes. While so many car and truck accidents are preventable, there are five culprits responsible for those dreadful numbers. For example, in the U.S., front seat belt use is lower than in most other comparison countries. In addition, 1 in 3 crash deaths involve drunk driving, and almost 35 percent will involve speeding. Lower death rates and reducing crash injury occurrences should be a main priority for state and federal authorities. In addition, drivers and passengers can:
- Use a seat belt in every seat, on every trip, no matter how short.
- Make sure children are always properly buckled in the back seat in a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt, whichever is appropriate for their age, height, and weight.
- Choose not to drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs, and help others do the same.
- Obey speed limits.
- Drive without distractions (such as using a cell phone or texting).
Here is a quick review of why each of these injury and fatality causes are prevalent and what can be done to lessen their occurrences.
Seat Belts in Every Seat
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, wearing seat belts and properly buckling children into appropriate car seats and booster seats, people can reduce the risk of serious injury and death in a car crash by half. The same goes for pickup trucks, SUVs and van occupants. When used in these vehicles, seat belts can reduce the risk of fatal injury by 60 percent and moderate-to-critical injury by 65 percent. Always be consistent and wear your seat belt and remember that driver safety belt use strongly influences whether your child will buckle up. Across Indiana, all passengers in vehicles that have seatbelts must use them while in forward motion.
Children Have to Be Properly Buckled
Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death and disability for children nationwide. On average, two U.S. children under age 13 were killed and 308 were injured every day in 2014 while riding in vehicles. Child car seat laws in Indiana confirm that:
- All children under 8 years old are required by law to ride in a vehicle while secured in either a child safety seat or a booster. The lone exception is if your child is too large to properly fit into either seat. In this case, your child must be secured with a safety belt.
- All kids between 8 years old and 16 years old must use seat belts.
Never use a damaged or used car seat. The life of a car seat is from six to eight years and a review of recalls from manufacturers should be completed. We have the details on how to properly install a safety seat here.
Never Drive While Impaired by Alcohol or Drugs
The CDC reports 29 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver every day. This is one death every 50 minutes. It’s not just alcohol that impairs though. In addition, the Governors Highway Safety Association’s Drug-impaired Driving Report was revised in 2017 and states more than 400 drugs that the NHTSA tracks were found in positive drug tests reported from drivers involved in collisions or unsafe driving. Nearly half of these drugs were prescriptions-based opioids and amphetamines, while marijuana accounted for roughly 35 percent of positive drug tests reported. The use of illicit drugs or misuse of prescription drugs can make driving a car unsafe—just like driving after drinking alcohol.
Call 911 if you suspect a driver of operating while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Try to take down and share as much information as possible, including the vehicle’s license plate number, make, location and direction. Motorists should use responsible drinking habits such as hiring a ride-share service or planning for alternative transportation when under the influence.
Obey Speed Limits
Speeding makes a crash more likely. About 10,000 fatal crashes each year involve speeding. Most drivers don’t feel threatened by a speeding ticket and turn into repeat offenders (if caught). A 2017 study by the National Transportation Safety Board found that automated controls such as taking pictures of speeding cars reduced crashes, serious injuries and fatalities, but only 14 states have such automated programs. Indiana currently has no state law or city ordinance with these automated speed control programs.
Car accident lawyers and law enforcement workers would agree that speeding ranks high as one of the top causes of car accidents and injury, even death. High-speed accidents can also cause more serious and life-long, personal injuries.
Distracted Driving Continues to Kill
The last thing drivers should be doing is spending time on their phone while behind the wheel, especially since distracted driving, specifically texting while driving, remains a major culprit behind most preventable crashes and thousands of Indiana car accidents every year, some fatal. In fact, reading just one text message will keep a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of five seconds, enough time to run a traffic light or not see a pedestrian crossing the road. In fact, for the first time ever, distracted driving trends have started to surpass deaths from DUI. Several safe driving apps have been created to directly block a driver from using their phone and help keep a their attention where it belongs … on the road.
Offering Solutions to Keep Your Family Safe
Every single day, people are hurt or even killed due to an accident directly related to these five driving choices. If you have suffered injuries as a result of a dangerous or distracted driver, or have been involved in an accident resulting in the death of a loved one, the attorneys at Wagner Reese can assist you in pursuing the compensation you deserve and work to recover a loss of wages, medical bills, or other damages you encountered because of your injury.
Call us today for a risk-free, no-cost consultation at 1-888-710-9733. We can also collect your information and call you back after you have completed our easy, online intake form.