Car Accidents in Pennsylvania
When an errant driver on the road does something unexpected, other motorists need to react quickly to avoid a collision. If a car accident does occur, injuries and property damage can produce great stress and anxiety in the victims.
Although the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic reduced traffic on the roads by at least 16 percent in 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of people who died in car accidents actually jumped up to 42,060, an increase by eight percent from 2019, marking the first increase in four years, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). In the same NSC report, released in 2021, the estimate for injuries from the countywide car accidents in 2020 is $4.8 million.
These numbers may seem astounding, and if broken down to state and local levels, they remain staggering.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) reports an increase in the number of fatalities in car accidents statewide for 2020 to 1,129, despite not only less drivers on the road, but far less accidents in general, dropping from 125,567 in 2019 to 104,472 for 2020. As the number of accidents two decades earlier in 2001 was 131,726 and remained steadily in that vicinity all the years in between, the 2020 drop was a dramatic one. Therefore, it makes the increased fatal car crashes even more of a concern.
With the decrease, there was an increasing share of Pennsylvania accidents in 2020 that involved only one car running off the road. Almost 32,000, roughly one-third of the year’s statewide accidents, are attributed to this category. Although this is down from 2019’s 38,277 accidents, single vehicle accidents made up roughly one-quarter of that year’s car collisions, so it actually comprises more of the year’s accidents than previously.
More than a third of the state’s car accidents in 2020 fell under the PennDOT hit fixed object category, with 39,441 collisions of Pennsylvania’s 104,472 total. Much like the single vehicle off the road accidents for the year, this number is lower than the 2019 state number of 43,921 but actually comprises more of the state’s total accidents for 2020.
Car accidents often cause injuries. Some injuries are not immediately seen; some are obvious; some are life changing; and unfortunately, even with the many safety technologies that have been incorporated into today’s cars, some are fatal.
At its least serious level, a car accident is simplified to damage of property, but of course, that comes at quite a cost as well, as over 70 percent of the U.S. population uses a car to get to work, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Victims of a car accident need a seasoned car accident lawyer to make sure that all of the costs incurred by the accident, including health care, hospital, physical therapy, and repairs to vehicles or other property as well as lost wages, are covered by the settlement.
Reasons for Car Accidents
There are many reasons for car accidents, but according to safety experts and government statisticians, well over 90 percent of car accidents are caused by driver errors.
For the state of Pennsylvania and the nation, distracted driving is high on the list of what is considered risky driving behaviors. Pennsylvania marked 10,826 accidents as the result of distracted driving for 2020, which marks a drop of almost 3,000 from the 13,776 distracted driving collisions in 2019. But with a drop of over 21,000 in statewide collisions, that drop actually presents a larger share of Pennsylvania crashes in 2020 than the year before.
Why is distracted driving still a problem with hands-free technology? The problem is, even with eyes on the road, drivers can get lost in the conversation on the phone.
Also, texting while driving is a huge problem. According to the NHTSA, sending or reading a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for about five seconds, which is enough time for a car driving at 55 miles per hour to clear the length of a football field. Many things can happen in that distance.
One in three teens admit to texting while driving, and according to a Chicago Tribune 2017 report on the distracted driving problem, one in four drivers was using a cell phone right before an accident.
Driving while on the phone is often used to define distracted driving. But the truth is, there are many potential distractions for drivers, and they are not necessarily all technology related.
According to a study conducted by Monash University in 2013, child passengers can be 12 times more distracting to a driver than talking on a cell phone. The study found that the average parent driver took his or her eyes off the road for three minutes and 22 seconds during a 16-minute trip.
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute conducted a study on unsafe driving habits in 2016 and found that driving while crying or visibly angry increased the risk of crashing by 10 times, so did reading and writing.
There is so much more that takes the attention away from the road while drivers are behind the wheel. Over 80 percent of survey respondents to a TeenSafe 2018 study on risky driving behaviors said they change clothes, steer with feet, paint nails, shave, and many more risky activities while driving.
For Pennsylvania drivers, 6,119 accidents in 2020 were attributed to aggressive driving. Although aggressive driving is often considered to be road rage behaviors, those kinds of behaviors really only encompass a part of what is classified as aggressive driving, according to a study on the behavior.
Over 65 percent of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving, according to a SafeMotorist.com. 2019 report. In that same study, it was reported that over 37 percent of aggressive driving incidents involved a firearm.
Driving over the speed limit, which online driver education tool Driving-tests.org. lists as remarkably common, with over 50 percent of traffic traveling at least 10 miles per hour over the posted limit every day, is also one of the primary behaviors behind aggressive driving.
Speeding is listed as the most prevalent contributor to aggressive driving accidents, and by itself, was listed as the cause for over 10,000 fatalities in the United States in 2016, more than 25 percent of the driving related deaths in the year, according to the NHTSA.
The pandemic and all of the unrest and social isolation that came with it may be listed as a reason for speeding, but the NHTSA saw an increase of speeding in 2020 collisions by an average of 22 percent in several metropolitan areas.
It is well established that people react slower physically when they have had too much to drink. Drugs, legal or not, have the same effect on drivers.
Over 65 percent of the drivers in trauma centers after a serious accident tested positive for alcohol or drugs in 2020, according to the NHTSA.
Alcohol-impaired drivers account for more than 30 percent of the nation’s driving fatalities each year, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
There are more than 30 people in the United States who die every day as a result of a drunk driver, or one every 48 minutes. Over 800 injuries occur daily across the country due to drunk drivers, according to the NHTSA.
Marijuana, although legal in most states in some form, is the second most prevalent cause for driving under the influence, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Therefore, although alcohol and marijuana are legally allowed, they impact driving the same as illegal drugs do. If the drug is prescribed, as has been well established with the nation’s current opioid crisis, that does not mean that it is safe to drive while on it.
In the PennDOT annual crash statistics report, the number of 2020 accidents attributed to driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance was roughly one-tenth of the year’s vehicle accidents at 9,782. Like so many of the negative impacts of the year that was mostly marked by COVID-19, the 2020 impaired driving accident numbers comprise more of the overall year’s accidents than this category did in 2019, when 11,304 crashes of the year’s 125,267 were from impaired driving.
Types of Accidents
Some accidents are worse than others. Where cars collide, or where a car collides with something else on the road, can make certain injuries more likely. Likewise, damage on the car itself may be more likely with certain types of crashes.
According to the NHTSA, these are a few of the most common car accidents.
A common sight on the highway is the after-effects of a rear-end collision. The NHTSA lists this kind of accident as the most common in the United States.
Many drivers have experienced a situation in which the driver in front has suddenly hit the brakes hard or stopped. The driver behind may not have enough time to react properly or may do so and get hit by the car behind him or her.
Single vehicle crashes
This type of accident has seen an uptick during the ongoing pandemic. No other driver is involved in this type of crash, and it may be a loss of control because of driving conditions, weather, speed, driving under the influence, or not paying attention to the road.
These can be remarkably dangerous for the people in the car receiving the force of the collision. Also referred to as a T-bone collision, these are often caused by a driver running a red light or stop sign or making a left turn without yielding to oncoming traffic. The driver in the car that collides into another car is usually found negligent in these cases, as it is most often driver negligence that causes the accident.
Entering the roadway/clipping
Although many newer cars come with a warning system for vehicles approaching from the side, it is best for the driver to turn and look; there is less room for error than with a misdirected mirror or a warning system that does not work as intended.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. Seek Justice for Accident Victims
If you were hurt in a motor vehicle accident, you may be able to claim damages for your medical bills, lost wages, or other fair compensation. The Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. will determine who is liable for your accident and guide you through your claim. Learn more about how we can help by calling 267-861-7100 or visiting our website to set up a free consultation.
Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients in Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Delaware County, and Norristown.