The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates more than 3,700 drivers were involved in fatal car accidents on Georgia’s roads in 2017, resulting in about 1,500 fatalities. The vast majority of car accidents are preventable, making severe injuries and fatalities a hard pill to swallow for victims and families alike. The following list, in no particular order, examines the most common causes of car accidents in Savannah, in Georgia, and across the nation. Learning about these causes can help you drive more defensively to avoid careless drivers on the road and prevent you from making decisions behind the wheel that might result in you causing a car accident.
Driving While Impaired
Historically, driving while impaired or driving under the influence only included alcohol. Yet, in recent years states, including Georgia, have included penalties for driving under the influence of drugs and other controlled substances. In 2017, Chatham County reported more than 1,300 arrests of impaired drivers, resulting in about 800 criminal DUI convictions. Regardless of whether consuming alcohol or using drugs, driving under their influence is illegal, dangerous, and sometimes deadly. Whether having a few drinks with dinner, celebrating, unwinding after work, far too many motorists put others at risk by getting behind the wheel.
Driving While Distracted
Distractions have long been a cause of car accidents. Before cell phones, things like helping children in the back seat, eating, personal grooming, adjusting the radio, and daydreaming were common distractions that led to accidents. Many states, including Georgia, have placed focus on cell phone usage as a dangerous distraction. In order to combat the injuries and fatalities caused by talking or texting and driving, Georgia implemented a Hands-Free law in July 2018 that prohibits drivers from the following behaviors:
- Drivers must be completely hands-free while talking and driving.
- Even with hands-free technology, drivers may write, read, or send texts or emails.
- Drivers cannot post on social media or surf the internet while driving.
- Drivers cannot watch videos while operating their vehicle.
- Drivers cannot record videos while operating their vehicle.
- Drivers cannot use streaming music services that include videos while on the road.
People have long work days, work multiple jobs, or maybe life’s stresses cause them to struggle to get a good night’s sleep. Although no motorist intends to fall asleep at the wheel, it happens too frequently, resulting in accidents that lead to severe injuries and sometimes death. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is the agency that regulates the trucking industry, reports that 18 hours without sleep affects a person’s body the same way that a 0.08 blood alcohol concentration does. Drowsy drivers think and react more slowly and fatigue affects their senses and abilities. Shift workers, truck drivers, and people who suffer from sleep disorders face the greatest risk of causing a drowsy driving crash.
Aggressive and impatient drivers, or those with little experience, sometimes follow a vehicle too closely. When tailgating another car, drivers don’t leave the distance or time to react to the vehicle in front of them. That vehicle may make an erratic movement like a lane change, a quick turn or a sudden stop. This sometimes results in a rear-end collision, which is almost always the fault of the car following too closely. Experts recommend leaving a two to four-second gap when following another vehicle to avoid a crash. Raining and other inclement weather calls for a larger gap.
States post speed limits to keep drivers, passengers, and others safe. Speeding may cause loss of control of a vehicle causing an accident, but it isn’t always the direct cause. Yet, speeding is responsible for some of the most severe and fatal crashes on the road. Once a vehicle is traveling over 50 miles per hour, the force of the impact doubles with each additional 10 miles per hour. In an effort to crack down on those who speed on Georgia roads, the state enacted a Super Speeder Law in 2010. Those convicted of speeding at 75 miles per hour or more on a two-lane road or over 85 miles per hour anywhere in Georgia will be fined an additional $200. The additional fines help fund trauma care in Georgia’s hospital system. About 60 percent of all trauma care patients were involved in some type of traffic accident.
Ignoring Traffic Signals
Whether from purposeful aggressive driving or complacency, ignoring traffic signs and signals might lead to a severe or deadly accident. Some drivers are laser-focused on the road in front of them without scanning their eyes to take note of traffic signs. Ignoring a stop light might result in a broadside collision, ignoring the posted speed limit can lead to a driver going to fast for upcoming curves or corners, and ignoring yield signs might put a driver in the midst of heavy traffic leading to a crash.
Not Clearing Blind Spots or Riding in Another Vehicle’s Blind Spot
Many vehicle drivers only look straight ahead and only use their rear-view mirrors for backing. Vehicles have blind spots, and when drivers don’t clear their blind spots before changing lanes, they might cause an accident. Drivers must use their rear-view mirror and their side mirrors to check their blind spots. In some cases, they might have to quickly look over their shoulder. On busy city streets, pedestrians and bicyclists can ride in blind spots. On multi-lane roads and highways, motorcycles and small cars might be in a blind spot. Drivers who ride in other blind spots also might cause an accident. This is especially relevant for cars that hang out in a semi-truck’s much-larger blind spots.
Hire a Seasoned Savannah Car Accident Lawyer
If you have suffered an injury in a car accident because of another driver’s careless actions, Georgia law entitles you to seek damages in civil court. An experienced car accident lawyer will help you through this difficult time while you focus on healing and recovering from your injuries. Contact Hasner Law Firm online in Savannah at (912) 234-2334 for a free consultation with one of our skilled car accident attorneys.