Car accidents have been on the upswing across the U.S. in recent years, and Pennsylvania is not an exception. The number of car accidents, injuries, and fatalities have all increased steadily. Recent research on this deeply troubling trend has uncovered a number of common risk factors, as well as simple safety measures that can reduce the severity of injuries sustained.
Of course, there are the obvious dangers, such as drunk driving and failure to obey traffic laws. But other hazards have cropped up too. For instance, drug-related crashes are on the rise as the nation grapples with an opioid epidemic. Distracted driving, meanwhile, is more prevalent than ever, as motorists have an ever-growing number of sophisticated gadgets vying for their attention behind the wheel.
Engaging in these behaviors is a form of negligence because it represents a breach of duty that all motorists are obliged to. Drivers are responsible for operating their vehicles in a manner that is reasonably safe. If you have been involved in an auto accident because of a negligent driver, Hazelton motor vehicle accident lawyers can help you pick up the pieces, identify potential defendants and fight for fair compensation.
The Research on Car Accident Risk Factors
After the economic crash of 2008, fewer vehicles were on the road, and traffic fatalities experienced a corresponding drop. According to The Washington Post, traffic fatalities across the United States hit an all-time low in 2011. Unfortunately, as Americans have returned to the road, traffic fatalities have been steadily climbing ever since. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released its fatality data for 2016, and reported that fatalities had - again - increased from the previous year. A 5.4 percent increase in the number of fatality victims placed the total at 37,461.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied these accident rates in greater detail, and found that rural car accidents tend to be more dangerous than urban car accidents. Specifically, the researchers found that while accident rates are higher in urban areas, rural accidents were 2.6 times more likely to result in fatal injuries. Specific contributing factors were also identified by the study. Speeding and a lack of seat belt use - which have long been shown to increase the severity of injuries sustained in a traffic accident - were both found to be higher in rural areas. Not only was seat belt use higher in urban areas, but it was found to steadily decrease as an area became more and more rural. This trend is a significant predictor of fatal injuries in rural areas.
Speeding is also an effective predictor of which car accident injuries will be fatal. Speed-related accidents are more likely to occur in areas which do not use photo enforcement programs. As many rural areas do not use photo enforcement, researchers opine this results in an increase in the amount of speeding that occurs there. The National Center for Biotechnology Information published a longitudinal review of studies that measured the efficacy of automated enforcement technology programs. Of the nearly 30 studies reviewed, every single one reported a lower number of crashes after implementation of a speed enforcement technology program. Drivers can reduce the risk of suffering fatal injuries by accepting personal responsibility for traveling at a safe speed. This is, in fact, required by Pennsylvania law (See Statutes of Pennsylvania, Title 75, Section 3362).
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, seek the counsel of an experienced Hazelton car accident attorney. He or she will ensure that you receive full and fair compensation for all your injuries and financial losses.