A Year of Accidents and You (Part 2)
This is part two of a three-part special series on accident trends in Virginia, and what you need to know to prepare so you can avoid them.
In this piece we will cover the behaviors that most put Virginia drivers at risk.
The second-highest type of crashes we see are fender-benders and rear-end collisions. We see a lot of these, too, which isn’t surprising. The DMV tracks how many accidents happen because the driver was following too close and/or failed to yield. These types of accidents account for 1-in-5 of all accidents on the road!
How to beat it: Relax. It’s natural to be frustrated when you’re in a hurry, or running late, but leave enough room to allow for the driver in front of you to brake, give yourself time to react. If you don’t, you could end up with a hefty repair bill – or it could be much, much worse.
Whether you’re driving a Ford F150, a Mazda Miata, or a school bus, you have a 1-in-5 chance on the road in Virginia of striking someone, or being struck, by a distracted driver. The chances for injury and death are infinitely higher with distracted driving. You’re less likely to be paying enough attention to brake or react in time to avoid the crash.
In 2014, 466 people died while their car was going straight. Think about that. Your car is going straight, and suddenly you’re in an accident. Were you looking at your phone?
How to beat it: Here are 5 great apps to prevent texting and driving. Better yet, tell your spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, friends, and coworkers that you don’t respond to texts while driving. Pull over to the side of the road any time you need to answer a call, even if you’re on a wireless headset.
Speed is the highest contributor to road fatalities and injuries in Virginia.
300 persons were killed in speed-related crashes in 2014, and 13,378 were injured. You don’t even need to be going that much faster than the speed limit, if you’re not careful. Of speed-related crashes, the highest number of accidents occurred in the 56-60 mph range. Metal gets pretty pliable at those speeds.
How to beat it: Slow down. Pay attention. Stay alive.
Alcohol is the second highest contributor to road fatalities in Virginia.
From age 20 to 21 the number of accidents by age increases by over five times! From age 21-25, you are three times as likely to kill or injure one of your passengers in an automotive accident. The incidence of fatalities for people not wearing their seat belts is also 2-3x higher in the 21-35 age group.
The highest number of fatalities per age group belongs to the 21-25 year olds and 46-55 year olds. That’s mostly young drivers who’re legally able to drink, and people whose kids are old enough to drive by themselves, or have left home.
Drinking isn’t just dangerous on the roads when you’re in a car, either. The number of pedestrians who died struck by a vehicle while intoxicated increases by 20 times at ages 21-35, and again at 46-60.
How to beat it: Remember at the top of this blog where it said 96% of drivers in accidents hadn’t had a drop to drink? If that’s you, great job! Keep it up!
If you’re going to drink, have a safe way to get home – take turns being the designated driver with your friends, or take a cab.
In part three of A Year of Accidents and You we’ll cover the other factors that contribute to accidents in Virginia. We’ll also talk about what you can do to prepare for an accident, what to keep in your vehicle, and what to do if and/or when you’re involved in an accident.