Articles Posted in Car Accident Facts and Statistics

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If you have children, car seats are essential. Age-appropriate safety seats can help protect your child in the event of a car accident in Homestead or your hometown. However, safety seats are useless unless they are used consistently and properly.

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If you want to keep your smallest passengers safe, there are several things you will want to do to ensure your car seats offer maximum protection:

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Florida has many excellent distinctions. We have some of the best weather, best beaches, and among the most beautiful scenery in the country. Florida residents are largely well-educated, kind, and talented. It’s easy to be proud of a state like ours. After all, millions of people from around the world come to visit us each year.

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Unfortunately, according to the organization Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, we have one additional distinction, and this one is not so praise-worthy. According to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Florida is among the worst states in this country when it comes to traffic safety.

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If you drive in South Florida, you may already know that distracted driving is a problem on the roads. No matter where you go, you are likely to see drivers talking on their phones, fixing their hair, or simply not paying attention to the roads. Distracted driving in Hollywood and other communities causes many accidents, and there are many suggestions about how we can put a stop to it. But does this problem really have a clear-cut solution?

Distracted Driving Statistics

According to the NHTSA and other government agencies, the problem of distracted driving is not significantly improving, despite education campaigns and greater awareness. In 2011, there were 3,360 fatalities linked to distracted driving and by 2012 there were 3,328 distraction-related deaths. In the same time period, the number of people injured by a distracted driver increased from 387,000 in 2011 to 421,000 a year later.

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Most car accidents involve injuries caused by impact. In an intersection collision in Miami or Florida, for example, the impact can push passengers forward into the dashboard or can cause passengers to be flung about the inside of the car, potentially causing head injuries, spinal cord trauma, and other serious injuries. In a car accident where the car is thrown into the water, however, passengers are at risk of drowning as well as all the other causes of injuries that can happen with a traffic accident.

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Florida Has More Water-Related Traffic Fatalities

Unfortunately, Florida leads the nation when it comes to drownings caused by car collisions. Between 2008 and 2012, 49 people in the state have died due to car crash drownings. In comparison, Texas had 18 deaths in the same time period. That state was second in the nation when it comes to car crash drownings.

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A new study led by Ralph Hingson of the U.S. National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism was published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs and has found that drunk driving fatalities across the country may be underreported. Researchers analyzed data from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and death certificates to check the blood alcohol levels of those who had been killed in traffic crashes between 1999 and 2009.

Researchers found a discrepancy. While data from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that 21 percent of those killed in collisions had a blood alcohol level above the legal limit, only 3 percent of death certificates cited alcohol or drunk driving as a cause of death.

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Part of the reason may be that it can take several days to get blood-alcohol tests completed while death certificates are usually filed within five days of a fatality. Another reason for the discrepancy may be that states have different rules about checking for drunk driving. Only about half of states automatically require checking blood alcohol levels after a fatal crash.

The research is interesting since it raises a question: are we underestimating the number of drunk driving accidents in Hollywood and other cities? If it takes some time to get blood alcohol testing complete, how accurate are reports about the number of serious DUI car accidents in Hollywood and other cities? Would more strict testing of all motorists involved in traffic collisions yield a more accurate picture about the real number of DUI car and truck collisions in Hollywood and across the state?

The researchers of this most recent study have stated that the underreporting is significant, since it can impact the number of prevention and educational campaigns created to combat drunk driving. If legislators knew how many young people were dying in these types of accidents, for example, this could change policies and DUI awareness campaigns as well as public focus on the issue. With accurate numbers, researchers say, it would also be easier to track how much DUI accident rates change over time.

In recent years, the focus has really been on distracted driving in Hollywood and across the country. However, this latest study suggests that the fight against drunk driving is still ongoing, with far too many motorists still ignoring the fact that drunk driving kills.

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Car accidents in Homestead and across Florida are a leading cause of injury and death. They are also a leading cause of child injury in Homestead and other cities. Car crashes cause many catastrophic injuries, including:

•Paralysis
•Head injuries
•Amputations
•Internal injuries
•Whiplash
•Fatalities
•Burns
•Soft tissue injuries
•Fractures
•Spinal cord injuries
•Crushing injuries
•Disfigurement and facial injuries
These injuries cause devastation as well as financial distress. Safety experts agree that driving is one of the most dangerous things we do most days. In fact, even though fear of flying is far more common than fear of riding in a car, aviation accidents in Homestead and other cities are far less common than car accidents. Bus accidents, public transportation accidents, and taxi accidents are also less common than car crashes. In fact, statistics show that the odds of being fatally injured in a car accident are about 1 in 5,000 while the odds of dying in a plane accident are about one in 11 million.

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According to the National Safety Council, there are an average of about ten million traffic collisions across the country each year, ranging from minor fender benders to serious accidents. According to car insurers, average drivers file for collisions every 17.9 years and the average driver has about three or four car accidents that necessitate filing a claim over a lifetime. Most drivers, in other words, will be in a car accident at some point.

However, traffic collisions are not the only dangers present with cars. According to a study by MIT, each year about 53,000 Americans die in premature deaths related to car pollution, compared to about 34,000 fatalities caused by car crashes. The study concluded that one in five Americans were in danger from car pollution, especially those residents living near roadways.

In addition, there is anecdotal evidence that cars may cause deaths and injuries in other ways. For example, when car components overheat or fail to act as expected, they may cause burns and other injuries. In addition, some research has suggested that some components in new cars – even in car interiors — may actually be carcinogenic.

Car crashes caused by drunk driving, distracted driving, and other forms of negligent behavior cause far too many tragedies on our roads. In addition, cars themselves can be a danger and a hazard to drivers and other road users.

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In early February of this year, wrong-way car accidents killed eleven people in two separate accidents in Florida and California. Unfortunately, deadly wrong-way traffic accidents are a serious risk in Hollywood and across the country.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), wrong way car accidents are one of the most serious crashes that can occur on our roads. In many cases, these accidents occur at high speeds on divided highways and due to the speed involved, serious accidents, fires, and fatalities are the common outcome.

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The NTSB reports that while wrong-way car and truck collisions on highways only account for about three percent of all highway accidents, they are far more likely than other crashes to be fatal. In fact, up to 22 percent of these accidents are fatal, compared to the 0.3 percent of all highway collisions that prove fatal. There are a few reasons why these accidents tend to be so deadly:

•On highways, about 80 percent of wrong-way crashes are head-on collisions, which have a very high rate of injury and fatality
•There is often speed involved, which can increase the force of impact
•On highways and exit ramps, wrong-way collisions often become multiple-vehicle crashes
•Due to the strength of impact in these cases, fires and severe damage to the car often occur, causing even more serious injuries
One concern for the NTSB and other agencies is that the number of fatal wrong-way collisions has remained relatively flat over the years – about 360 lives are claimed through these accidents each year. While campaigns have been successful in reducing the number of drunk driving accidents in Hollywood and other communities and while the number of fatal trucking accidents has dropped slightly in recent years, this type of collision is still a concern.

According to the NTSB and other agencies, there are three areas of focus that could help reduce this deadly type of car and truck collisions in Hollywood and other communities:

1) Reduce drunk driving accidents. The NTSB reports that in 59 percent of wrong-way accidents studied between 2004 and 2009, drivers had blood alcohol levels over two times the limit. In an additional ten percent of the accidents, drivers had blood alcohol limits above the legal limit of .08 but under .15. Since alcohol plays such a significant role in these accidents, the NTSB would like to see universal rules that would require first-time DUI offenders in all states to be required to use ignition interlock devices. These devices are installed on a car’s dashboard and will not allow a driver to start the car if they have been drinking.

2) Address elderly drivers. The NTSB found that elderly drivers over the age of 70 accounted for 15 percent of wrong-way collisions between 2004 and 2009. In contrast, drivers over the age of 70 represented only three percent of the drivers headed the right way in these collisions.

3) Consider highway design. Exit ramps are the most common site of wrong-way accidents, although some of these crashes also occur when drivers make illegal U-turns or use an emergency turn-around. Improved signage and markings as well as more barriers to prevent wrong-way driving could be helpful in preventing collisions.

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Much has been written about drunk driving in Hollywood and other Florida communities and thanks to education campaigns many drivers are aware of the risks of drinking and driving. Unfortunately, there is less emphasis on driving under the influence of drugs and medication, even though there is plenty of research to suggest that both legal and illegal drugs can increase the risk of a car crash in Hollywood. A few recent studies have highlighted the risks:

1) A recent study from Toronto’s Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, published in the JAMA Internal Medicine, found that patients with low doses of opioids like oxycodone, codeine and morphine may have an increased risk of car accidents. According to researchers, patients who had doses of 20 milligrams of morphine – which is considered a low dose – had an 21% greater risk of traffic accidents when compared with patients who were not taking the medication. Patients taking high doses of morphine had a 42% increased risk of car accidents.

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2) Another recent study, headed by Associate Professor Mark Asbridge of Dalhousie University, concluded that drivers who consume marijuana a few hours before getting behind the wheel may be almost doubling their risk of a crash. Asbridge and his team examined the medical records of 49,411 accident victims to reach their conclusions. This study supports earlier findings that cannabis may contribute to car accidents by affecting decision-making, concentration, and motor skills.

3) A recent study from McGill University looked at the records of 225,000 accident victims over the age of 67 and found that drivers who were taking long-acting benzodiazepines – often used to treat insomnia and anxiety – may have a 45% increased chance of being in a serious car crash. These medications, which include Clonazepam Klonopin, Valium, Tranxene, Libratabs, and Dalmane, can remain in the bloodstream for over 24 hours, although the largest risk of a crash seems to be in the first few hours of taking the substance.

Doctors and researchers agree: many over-the-counter, prescription, or illegal medication or drugs can increase your risk of a traffic accident in Hollywood or your community. It can be especially dangerous to combine drugs and medication, since the drug interactions can sometimes produce unexpected effects. When taking any over-the-counter or prescription drugs, you will want to speak with both your doctor and pharmacist to examine any possible interactions that could occur with the drugs you take and any drowsiness or other side effects that could occur with the medication. You may need to adjust your dosage or choose another medication to avoid any effects that could increase your risk of a traffic accident. If you take a medication and notice any unusual or unexpected symptoms such as dizziness or fatigue, contact your doctor or pharmacist for further advice and avoid driving until you determine it is safe to do so.

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According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and a recent article on MSN, shorter yellow lights can increase the risk of car accidents. In Hollywood and other Florida cities, this may be an especial risk since many Florida municipalities have decided to shorten the amount of time allowed for yellow lights.

Many drivers assume that traffic lights are constant and that the duration of the lights is chosen for safety. However, many municipalities can and change the duration of traffic lights. Many motorists want shorter lights because they are impatient at intersections. Unfortunately, research by the IIHS has shown that shorter yellow lights can lead to a greater risk of accidents.

These accidents can be especially deadly because they occur at intersections. When car and truck accidents in Hollywood take place at intersections, they tend to be side-impact collisions and other types of crashes that tend to carry a higher risk of injury. These accidents also tend to be more serious because many accidents at intersections involve higher speeds and therefore greater force.

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According to the IIHS, running red lights causes hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of injuries each year. Increasing the length of yellow lights by just one second, the IIHS reports, can reduce red light running by one third. Yellow lights, quite simply, give drivers more time to get through an intersection or stop safely.

According to a recent item in Florida’s 10 News, Florida cities such as Tampa and others have been reducing the length of their yellow lights, because they are basing length on speed only rather than considering traffic and other variables. Some allege that the changes are meant to bring in more revenues from red light cameras, since reducing a yellow light by only 0.5 seconds doubles the number of people who can be caught by cameras running a red light.

There are already plans under way, according to the news program, to increase the length of yellow lights in Florida. In the meantime, motorists can take steps to prevent traffic crashes in Hollywood and other cities by:

•Driving at speed limits
•Avoiding distracted driving
•Slowing down when approaching intersections
•Scanning ahead for intersections and other situations so that they are prepared to stop

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New research is being published all the time that could help prevent future car accidents in Homestead and other cities. This past month, some of the more interesting findings included:

1) A study showing that driverless cars may be more reliable than even professionally trained drivers. Google released two research studies at a conference in California, showing data from the Google driverless cars already on the road. The cars have already logged hundreds of thousands of driving miles and have proven far safer than human motorists. According to the studies, the driverless cars keep a safer driving distance and brake more smoothly than even professional drivers. Many people already predict that the cars will eventually help prevent traffic accidents in Homestead and other communities but many safety experts still would like to see more independent studies of the cars.

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2) A study has shown that even some driverless cars on the roads could prevent collisions and injuries. According to a new study by the Eno Center for Transportation, if only 10% of the vehicles on the roads were driverless, traffic fatalities could be reduced by 1,000 annually and we might see up to $38 billion in savings in collisions. If 90% of the vehicles on the roads were driverless, 21,700 fatalities could be prevented each year and $447 billion could be saved.

3) New research shows the dangers of drivers who are under the influence of drugs. A new study from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health concluded that drivers who are under the influence of drugs while driving have a tripled risk of a fatal car collision, when compared with their drug-free counterparts and combining alcohol and drug uses means that drivers increase their risk of a deadly crash by 23 times compared to sober drivers. Researchers reached these findings by reviewing accident data from the US government.

4) Drivers in older cars may be more likely to be in a fatal accident. A new study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded that drivers who are in a car that is at least 18 years old are 71% more likely to die in an accident when compared with drivers who drive cars that are no older than three years. Drivers in a car that is 8 to 11 years old are 19% more likely to die in an accident when compared with drivers in a newer car. Drivers in a car that is 4 to 7 years old have a 10% higher chance of being in a fatal crash when compared with motorists in newer cars.

5) Cars with more safety features do not necessarily mean a reduced number of car accidents. According to a study conducted by Dr. Fred Mannering at Purdue University, there was no significant reduced number of car accidents on the roads between 1992 and 1997 that could be attributed to safety features such as ABS brakes. According to Dr. Mannering, drivers who have these features on their cars may not be experiencing a reduced number of accidents because they are overconfident because of the features.

Have you been injured in a car or truck accident in Homestead or any other community? Contact a personal injury attorney who can help.

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