Driver-related errors are responsible for nine out of every 10 catastrophic car crashes. This comes from a renowned research organization that earlier this year completed an exhaustive study into the causes of motor vehicle accidents.
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute conducts research designed to promote traffic safety. In 2016, it released the findings of its Second Strategic Highway Research Program Naturalist Study. Over three years, it equipped more than 3,500 passenger cars with video cameras and other monitoring equipment to observe actual daily driving habits. VTTI says this is the largest “naturalistic” driving study ever conducted.
Researchers compared the risky driving behaviors by the participants to a population of drivers who operated the vehicles safely.
90 Percent of Serious Crashes Linked to Driver Error
The study included some 1,600 crashes the participants were involved in over that time frame. Of those, the researchers identified 905 to be severe, with significant injuries and property damage. The study linked negligent driver behavior to almost 90 percent of these serious car accidents.
These behaviors included errors in judgment – such as improper braking – driving while fatigued, and driver distraction. Alarmingly, the researchers report that drivers were at some point distracted more than half the time they were behind the wheel. Drivers who were dialing their cell phones, the study determined, increased their crash risk by 12 times. Texting and driving raised the risk for an accident six times, and reading email tripled the risk.
Speeding was found to increase the car crash risk 13 times.
The driver’s state of mind can play a major role in motor vehicle accidents. According to VTTI, drivers who are visibly angry, sad or irritated were 10 times more likely to wreck.
Alcohol or Drug Impairment Greatest Risk for Car Crashes
But alcohol and drugs by far posed the greatest risk for crashes. Impaired drivers were found to have 36 times the chances for an accident compared to those who were not.
While this study involved drivers of passenger cars, the results in many ways mirror those of a previous study that looked into the causes of commercial truck crashes.
That three-year study, conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, found that fatigue, alcohol use, and speeding were the top factors in tractor-trailer accidents. All totaled, some sort of driver error or behavior was linked to 87 percent of the 963 truck crashes in the study.
The evidence is compelling. When car and truck drivers take their focus off the road or otherwise act carelessly, they put others in danger.
If you had a loved one killed or you were seriously hurt in a car or truck accident that was the fault of another driver, you have the right to pursue just compensation from those responsible. An attorney who represents victims of motor vehicle accidents will exercise this right on your behalf.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.