Articles Tagged with car accident

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has set up a website called "Distraction.Gov."

The website reveals some interesting statistics:

  • In 2008, there were a total of 34,017 fatal crashes in which 37,261 individuals were killed.
  • In 2008, 5,870 people were killed in crashes involving driver distraction (16% of total fatalities).
  • The proportion of drivers reportedly distracted at the time of the fatal crashes has increased from 8 percent in 2004 to 11 percent in 2008.
  • The under-20 age group had the highest proportion of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes (16%). The age group with the next greatest proportion of distracted drivers was the 20- to-29-year-old age group (12%).
  • Motorcyclists and drivers of light trucks had the greatest percentage of total drivers reported as distracted at the time of the fatal crashes (12%).
  • An estimated 21 percent of 1,630,000 injury crashes were reported to have involved distracted driving.
  • Nationwide, those drivers observed visibly manipulating hand-held electronic devices increased from 0.7 percent to 1.0 percent.
  • Some 1.7 percent of drivers 16 to 24 years old were observed visibly manipulating hand-held electronic devices, up from 1.0 percent the previous year.
  • More drivers in Western States were observed manipulating hand-held electronic devices (2.1%) than in the other regions of the country (from 0.4% in the Northeast to 0.8% in the Midwest).
  • The use of hand-held devices increased the most in the West, from 0.6 percent in 2007 to 2.1 percent in 2008.
  • The observed use rate of hand-held electronic devices was higher among females (1.2%) than among males (0.8%).

 The site also contains a list of states which ban driving while using cell phones or while texting.

The National Safety Counsel  announced yesterday that it estimates at least 28% of all traffic crashes – or at least 1.6 million crashes each year – are caused by drivers using cell phones and texting.

From the organization’s press release:

The estimate of 25% of all crashes — or 1.4 million crashes — caused by cell phone use was derived from NHTSA data showing 11% of drivers at any one time are using cell phones and from peer-reviewed research reporting cell phone use increases crash risk by four times. The estimate of an additional minimum 3% of crashes — or 200,000 crashes — caused by texting was derived by NHTSA data showing 1% of drivers at any one time are manipulating their device in ways that include texting and from research reporting texting increases crash risk by 8 times. Using the highest risk for texting reported by research of 23 times results in a maximum of 1 million crashes due to texting; still less than the 1.4 million crashes caused by other cell phone use. 

As this article in Wednesday’s Washington Post explains, electric cars present a new type of hazard to pedestrians and those with impaired sight:  you can’t hear them coming.   At low speeds (under 6.2 MPH)  the cars can literally sneak up on you and put you at risk of serious injury.  One study says that pedestrians face a 50%  increased risk of injury from cars that are backing-up and turning.

The article explains that the car manufacturers are thinking about putting artificial noises into these vehicles to reduce the risk of injury.  Will we see product liability claims against car manufacturers for making vehicles that are too quiet?  Federal legislation is in the works to require manufacturers to equip such cars to have non-visual alerts so that pedestrians can determine the vehicle’s location, motion and speed.

The use of electric cars will make it necessary for lawyers who do car accident cases, particularly those involving pedestrians, to understand what type of motor was in the car.  One can argue that a person driving an electric car at low speeds has an increased responsibility to be on the look-out for pedestrians and use the horn to warn them as the car approaches.  The lack of engine noise deprives pedestrians of an opportunity to use one of their senses – hearing – to avoid an injury.   This is particularly true for pedestrians who are children or who are elderly, or even for adults who are obviously pre-occupied with caring for children, talking on a cell phone, or juggling packages.

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