What Causes Fatal Car Crashes? - Panama City Wrongful Death Attorney Considers Factors Following the Third Vehicle Fatality to Strike Our Region in Three Days

There's an old saying that bad things come in threes. Sadly, that adage seems to have proven true on our region's roadways recently. Last Friday, WJGH reported on the region's third car crash-related fatality in a mere three days. The triad of tragedies called to mind the questions we are commonly asked as a law firm for fatal Panama City car crashes: what factors are most likely to lead to a fatal car crash?

Speeding a Likely Cause in Crash that Left One Passenger Dead and Another Seriously Injured

The 3rd car accident fatality to strike our region in the short period claimed the life of 23-year-old John Paul Tinsley of Callaway. Tinsley was 1 of 2 passengers in a Corvette driven by Carl Allen Wilson, age 24 of Port St. Joe, on County Road 286 around 9 P.M. on Thursday night. Police report that Wilson was travelling at an excessive speed when he failed to properly negotiate a curve in the road, causing the car to roll over about 4 miles north of Mexico Beach. Tinsley died at the scene. Wilson was ejected from the vehicle and was taken to Bay Medical/Sacred Heart in good condition. A second passenger, 22-year-old Vanessa Ann Raynor, was transported to the hospital in serious condition. Charges against Wilson are currently pending.

Factors Leading to Vehicle Fatalities

Reviewing data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA"), the Statistics Brain website compiled a list of the most common causes of fatal accidents. Combining that research with additional information from the popular EHow portal, these include:

  • Drunk Driving (involved in 32% of fatal crashes) - While this remains the most commonly-cited factor in fatal accidents, targeted education and enforcement efforts have helped this percentage drop from a high of 60% in 1982. Drivers who died due to driving drunk had an average BAC of 0.16, twice the legal limit in all U.S. states.
  • Speeding (involved in 31% of fatal crashes) - Research has found that the risk of a fatal crash doubles with every 5 kilometers-per-hour (3.1 mph) over 60 km/hr (37.3) a car is travelling. Speeding is a danger because increased speed correlates with an increased reaction time meaning it takes longer to effectively brake. Speed can also increase the severity of a crash.
  • Distraction (involved in 16% of fatal crashes) - While much attention has been paid to the danger of distraction due to mobile communications devices, distractions can come in many forms, including fatigue, talking to passengers, eating or drinking while driving, and manipulating items like a wallet or purse. Driver distraction, particularly among younger drivers, led to an estimated 5,870 fatalities in 2008.
  • Bad Weather (involved in 11% of fatal crashes) - Wet roads accounted for the largest share of fatal accidents involving dangerous weather. While people often fear winter weather, the NHTSA reported that 2,442 fatal crashes in 2008 involved rainy weather while only about a quarter of that amount, 838 fatal crashes, involved snow or sleet.

Of course, these are not the only factors that can lead to fatal vehicle accidents. Other elements we see frequently in our work as a Panama City car accident death law firm include: drug (legal or illegal) use; driver aggression/road rage; defective or poorly maintained auto parts, including tires; and medical issues impairing driver skill. Much of the time, an accident involves more than one danger-elevating factor.

Our Thoughts, Our Hopes, Our Promise

Our thoughts go out to the family of John Paul Tinsley and the families of the other victims who lost their lives in the recent spate of vehicle accidents. We hope this trend comes to an end, and that other families do not experience the terrible moment of receiving tragic news. We urge all drivers to use caution on the roadways – most accidents involve some form of driver responsibility, and it is up to each driver to keep our community safe.

Where some or all of the fault falls upon a driver, the family of a crash victim may have a wrongful death claim. Attorney Pittman has experience bringing such claims, thus helping families in the Panhandle region recover essential compensation in the wake of unexpected tragedy. Our team promises to provide the very best of legal service to each and every client. We also promise to treat grieving families with sensitivity, never forgetting the very human side of every wrongful death suit.

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