Negligent Driver Actions that Cause Fatal Crashes

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In new federal estimates, the number of people killed in motor vehicle accidents spiked 7% in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same three-month period last year, and 22% over the first quarter of 2019. In Missouri, the first-quarter increase from 2021 to 2022 was even higher than the national average, at 10.3%.

What are causes of fatal car wrecks that may contribute to this upward trend in deadly traffic accidents in Missouri?

Distracted driving is one cause of serious car crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2020, the most recent year with finalized data, more than 3,100 people died in crashes involving distracted drivers.  Eight percent of fatal motor vehicle accidents that year were labeled “distraction-affected.”

Missouri Drivers Distracted by Cell Phones

Drivers distracted by talking or texting on their phones take their focus off the road.  Such negligent behaviors can lead to a catastrophic wreck.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a nonprofit organization seeking to reduce fatal crashes through education and research, the federal government estimates that almost 8% of drivers in this country are on their phones, either talking or texting, at any point of the day.

Missouri is one of just two states that do not prohibit all drivers from using their cell phones behind the wheel. IIHS found that in two states that recently banned all drivers from any cell phone use - Oregon and Washington - crash rates dropped following the ban.

Distracted drivers, because of their lack of focus on driving, may also recklessly run a red light.  IIHS reports that drivers who run red lights kill hundreds of people every year, and injure thousands more.

Fatal Crashes Caused by Drivers Who Run a Red Light

In 2020 alone, according to IIHS, drivers who ran red lights killed over 900 people, including pedestrians and bicyclists. Another approximately 116,000 were injured by drivers who did not stop on red.

The federal government created National “Stop on Red Week” in 1995. It is a one-week campaign to educate drivers on the dangers of running red lights. This year’s observance was held August 7 -13.

The National Coalition for Safer Roads, another nonprofit group focused on preventing fatal crashes, calls red-light running accidents 100% preventable. It also relates that one in three people in this country knows someone who was injured or killed in a crash involving a driver running a red light.

Fatal Crashes Caused by Drunk Drivers

Drunk driving is another common cause of fatal car crashes. NHTSA’s report on drunk driving in 2020 (again, the most recent year with finalized reporting) reflects this.

In 2020, 11,654 people were killed in a crash involving a drunk driver.  That’s 30% of all those who died in traffic accidents that year. The number of people killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2020 increased 14% over the year prior.

IIHS has researched the deadly consequences of drunk driving.  One of its studies concluded that a quarter of all traffic crash deaths would be prevented every year if legally drunk-drivers – those with a blood alcohol content of at least .08% - were prevented from starting their vehicles by on-board technology.

While technology and legislative remedies may prove useful, they won’t prevent all the losses and trauma caused by careless distracted drivers and those who are alcohol-impaired.

If you were seriously injured or had a family member die in a crash caused by another driver, a personal injury lawyer can conduct an investigation to determine all responsible parties.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham.  Posted in Articles October 6, 2022.

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