Millions of people in the U.S. use cars for their main mode of transportation and so there are millions of cars on the road. Motor vehicle accidents are bound to happen and these accidents may be minor, severe, and sometimes fatal. A major car accident can also bring a financial burden upon you and your family from unexpected medical expenses and car repairs.
Although you may be a safe driver, there is nothing protecting you from a careless one. No matter the type of accident, our attorneys have the experience of dealing with all kinds of car accident cases. Some of the most common causes of car accidents include:
Motor Vehicle Crash Data
2018: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), commonly referred to as NHTSA, the number of people who died in vehicle crashes in 2018 totals 36,750. That figure is down 1.0 percent from the 2017 total of 37,133, showing a decline for the second year in a row. NHTSA statistics show there was a 2018 decrease in fatalities for the categories of motorcyclists, drivers, and passengers. There was an increase in fatalities in the categories of pedestrians, drivers age 65 and older, pedal cyclists, and wrecks involving large trucks. When using the measurement of the total number of deaths per every 100 million vehicle miles traveled, the fatality rate dropped from 1.16 in 2017 down to 1.14 in 2018.
2017: Per National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records, 37,133 individuals lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents in 2017, a figure that reflects a decrease of 1.8 percent from the 2016 total of 37,806. This decline is the first since 2014. The categories showing fatality decreases in 2017 are pedestrians, motorcyclists, speed-related and alcohol-impaired crashes. However, fatalities rose for SUV occupants and in wrecks involving large trucks. In 2017, using the measurement of the total number of deaths per 100 million miles traveled, the figure dropped to 1.16 from 1.19 the year before.
Traffic Deaths from 2009 to 2018
Losing a loved one in a fatal motor vehicle accident is a large loss in many different ways. It is impossible to place a specific dollar amount on a loved one’s life, but car accident wrongful death lawsuits are meant to help families find justice and financial security.
Below are some fatal motor vehicle accident statistics that show how prevalent they are in the United States.
- NHTSA reports a slight decrease in motorcyclist, passenger and driver fatalities in 2018 when compared to 2017.
- Drivers aged 65 and older are projected to have a slight increase in fatal crashes. Senior drivers are a danger behind the wheel to others on the road as well as to themselves.
- Fatalities involving at least one large truck are projected by NHTSA to have increased 3 percent, while those involving pedal cyclists grew by 10 percent. Fatalities in crashes involving pedestrians rose by 4 percent.
- NHTSA figures show that 67 percent of all traffic deaths in 2016 were individuals who were the occupants of vehicles, and an additional 14 percent were motorcycle riders. Another 16 percent of the total traffic deaths were pedestrians, and the remaining 3 percent were comprised of pedal cyclists, bus riders and other nonoccupants.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has developed a list of the top 5 driver behavior-related causes of motor vehicle accidents:
- Alcohol, drugs, and medications
- Failing to use lanes properly
- Failing to obey right of way rules
- Distracted driving
Speeding tops the list of driver behaviors that contribute to fatal crashes. Nearly 17 percent of drivers involved in fatal 2017 accidents were speeding. That’s 8,856 to be exact. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) blames higher state speed limits over the last 25 years for the loss of nearly 37,000 lives, including over 1,900 in the year 2017 alone.
By 2019, at least 42 states had speed limits of 70 mph or higher on some sections of the roadway. This includes:
- Texas, where motorists can drive up to 85 mph on one road
- Eight states with 80 mph speed limits
- 11 states with maximum limits of 75 mph
- 22 states with speed limits of 70 mph
Second on the list of driver behaviors causing fatal crashes is the use and influence of drugs, alcohol or medication. Approximately 11 percent of drivers in fatal crashes fall into this category. Third on the list is a driver’s failure to stay in the proper lane, and fourth is failure to yield right of way. These two categories comprise around 7,500 drivers and approximately 15 percent of fatal crashes. Fifth in the listing of driver behaviors most likely to cause a fatal crash is the distracted driver, totaling about 6 percent of fatalities.
Motor Vehicle Accidents – Time of the Year
Different periods of the year see traffic fatalities spike.
- In 2016, approximately 50 percent of fatality accidents happened on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- October 2016 saw the most fatality crashes that year, with January having the least, according to data from NHTSA.
- The start of daylight savings time is linked to a rise in automobile accidents, per researchers at Stanford University and John Hopkins, and according to a study by the University of British Columbia.
- During Thanksgiving week, approximately 50 more individuals die in auto accidents than during any other week of the year, reveals a study at the University of Alabama. Heightened speeding and use of alcohol, as well as weather and time of day, are all factors that affect these crash statistics.
- Because holidays generally involve an increase in travel, they are particularly prominent in traffic accident fatality figures. For example, the year 2016 saw 439 motor vehicle deaths on Thanksgiving Day, 397 on Independence Day, 389 on Memorial Day, 379 on Labor Day, 318 on Christmas Day, and 279 on New Year’s Day.
Without question, texting or talking on cell phones, adjusting vehicle controls, talking with passengers, eating and other distractions are huge safety threats. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a way to gauge distracted driving, and it collects data on distraction-affected accidents. The NHTSA focuses on distractions most likely to cause crash involvement like texting, dialing a cell phone or being distracted by an outside event or another passenger in the vehicle. In 2017, this research found that 3,166 people lost their lives in distraction-affected crashes. In all, there were 2,935 distraction-affected fatal motor vehicle accidents that accounted for 9 percent of the total fatal crashes in the entire country.
Most states have put measures in place to deal with the issue of texting and talking on cell phones. As of June 2019, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that 20 states and the District of Columbia had banned talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving. Minnesota enacted its law on August 1, 2019, and the state of Arizona will issue warnings until 2021 when it begins issuing tickets. Laws banning text messaging while driving are in place in 48 states and the District of Columbia. Novice drivers have even more restrictions by being banned from using a cell phone in 38 states and the District of Columbia.
Interestingly, a study by the Highway Loss Data Institute in 2010 that looked at claims patterns in Louisiana, California, Washington and Minnesota both before and after texting bans were enacted found that crash rates were not reduced by texting bans. As a matter of fact, collisions increased slightly except in Washington where there was no real significant change statistically. A more recent study, however, used data from hospital emergency departments in 16 states during the period from 2007 to 2014 and found that there was an average of 4 percent decrease in emergency room visits after automobile accidents in the states with texting bans. The American Journal of Public Health issued the results in March 2019 by authors from the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Texas A&M University School of Public Health.
Incidentally, a March 2012 report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that teenage girls are twice as likely as teenage boys to use cell phones or other electronic devices while driving an automobile.
Distraction-affected Fatal Crashes in 2017
- Distraction factored into 9 percent of fatality accidents reported in 2017.
- Cell phone use factored into 14 percent of distraction-affected fatality crashes in 2017, but only 1.2 percent of the entire 34,247 fatality crashes of the year.
An analysis of injured pedestrians at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City shows that pedestrians who are hit by an automobile are most often struck while they are in the crosswalk obeying the signal. The study also revealed that approximately 8 percent of the injured were hit while using an electronic device.
The NHTSA reports that 5,977 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2017 in the United States. This is a 1.7 percent decrease from the 6,080 pedestrians who lost their lives in 2016, but it still means that one pedestrian died every 88 minutes in traffic accidents. Pedestrian deaths totaled 16 percent of all traffic deaths in 2017.
Blood alcohol levels were elevated in 32 percent of pedestrians killed in auto accidents in 2017. Additionally, 17 percent of pedestrian fatality crashes involved a driver whose blood alcohol content was 0.08 or higher. In all 50 states, 0.08 grams per deciliter is the legal limit for alcohol impairment.
Contact The Eichholz Law Firm to File a Car Accident Lawsuit
An experienced car accident attorney can help guide an accident victim through the aftermath of a car accident. The Eichholz Law Firm has experienced personal injury attorneys who have helped victims recover hundreds of millions of dollars in legal action.
Call the Eichholz Law Firm today at (855)-551-1019 or fill out an online form for a free consultation.
- Adam Jones. “Thanksgiving Week Brings Risk of Traffic Fatalities”, University of Alabama, https://www.ua.edu/news/2017/11/thanksgiving-week-brings-risk-of-traffic-fatalities/. Accessed August 6, 2019.
- Nathan Bomey. “More than 37,000 people were killed in car crashes in 2017, NHTSA reports”, USA Today, https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2018/10/03/nhtsa-2017-crash-deaths-fatalities/1509341002/. Accessed August 6, 2019.
- Lisa Rapaport. “Bans on texting while driving tied to drop in ER visits for crash injuries”, Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-driving-texting/bans-on-texting-while-driving-tied-to-drop-in-er-visits-for-crash-injuries-idUSKCN1RF2MM. Accessed August 6, 2019.
- AAA Exchange. “Teen Driver Distraction”, AAA Exchange, https://exchange.aaa.com/teen-driver-distraction/#.XUw5bZNKhTY. August 6, 2019.
- Matt Flegenheimer. “Crosswalks in New York Are Not Havens, Study Finds”, The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/03/nyregion/study-details-injuries-to-pedestrians-and-cyclists-in-new-york-city.html. Accessed August 6, 2019.
- Insurance Information Institute. “Facts + Statistics: Highway safety”, Insurance Information Institute, https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-highway-safety. Accessed August 6, 2019.
- NHTSA. “Research & Data”, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, https://www.nhtsa.gov/research-data. Accessed August 6, 2019.