Summer vacations and car accidents go hand in hand. In my career spanning three decades of representing injured victims, I have seen ways that most accidents can be avoided. Being aware of driving behavior that repeatedly maims and kills is paramount.
Tailgating has resulted in an epidemic of rear end collisions. It doesn’t get anyone anywhere faster, so drop back a bit. Drunk driving and vastly exceeding a speed limit are killers. A small difference in speed matters. Each 5 miles an hour over the speed limit greatly increases the energy of a crash. Double the speed, and the energy of the crash is four times greater. Triple it, and the result is a nine-fold increase. In other words, the energy is squared. The body takes the brunt of the crash.
Another big cause of wrecks is running red lights. Seventy five percent of city collisions are caused by inattentive people who don’t see the lights or who run them intentionally to save an average of one minute driving time. Hitting the gas instead of the brake when a light turns to orange is disastrous in too many cases.
Failure to wear seat belts also remains a deadly mistake. The damage is done when the unbelted person strikes the interior of the vehicle. It is impossible in a collision of over about 8 mph for a person to brace with his arms to prevent striking interior components like the dashboard and windshield. A huge number of occupants are ejected through windows. Often, their own vehicle rolls over on them.
Inattentive driving kills about five thousand people a year according to NHTSA. While cell phone usage is only one bad idea when on the road (others being adjusting the radio, lighting cigarettes, and text messaging), it’s become dangerously prevalent. At this moment an estimated one million people are driving and communicating on cell phones. Avoid these scenarios, and your summer vacation is likely to be a happy one.