You would think that with today’s technology, the number of car accidents would be significantly reduced. Between cameras, vehicle “black boxes” and complex crash avoidance systems, we should be able to avoid crashes. There are even people who volunteer to have their cars monitored, so that if they do crash, experts can gather valuable data about how the accident happened. Even though we should know enough about how they happen to avoid them, the number of crashes are up.
Lack of Data to Measure
Part of this problem may be simply a lack of a central clearinghouse for this data. If 10 cars are involved in separate accidents, there is no one place where car A’s black box, car B’s camera footage, and the analysis of car C’s dented fender are all put together and analyzed.
Another problem is that humans themselves, whose verbal retelling of how an accident happened may contradict what the technology says. We are still very much reliant on human input. Your car’s sensors may tell us that your car applied the brakes at a certain force and slowed to a certain speed, but it cannot tell us whether that was because you fell asleep at the wheel before the crash or because a drunk driver blew a red light in front of you.
Camera footage can rectify these kinds of factual problems to some extent, but again, there is no one place that mandates that anybody hand over their footage of car accidents.
Article Analyzes Crash Data
A recent article tried to do what seems like the impossible—take all the data available from different sources and different studies, and come up with an analysis of how accidents happen. The article found that most accidents happen in one of a select few ways.
Rolling Right Turns
The law requires cars to stop at right turns where there is no green light (for example, at a four-way stop sign, or an intersection with no light or sign at all). Yet, how many people engage in the notorious “rolling right” turn?
The inherent danger in right turns is that as we turn right, the imminent danger is oncoming traffic, which is coming from our left. So as our car turns right our head swivels the completely opposite direction. This leaves us completely blind to whatever is on our right—pedestrians, bicyclists, and even little children. It is estimated that 6% of pedestrian fatalities come from drivers who do not make complete stops at right turns.
We have written in the past about the dangers of so-called “drowsy driving,” and the numbers bear out the real danger. It is estimated that 21% of accidents that involve fatalities were caused by some extent to drivers who were too tired to properly operate their car. 37% of people surveyed have admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel at some point.
Humans are generally bad at gauging how tired they actually are, meaning that even drivers who are aware of drowsy driving dangers may not be able to properly judge when they are at risk of being part of that problem.
Worse, our brains often engage in “microsleep”; brief intervals of sleep that occur for only a few seconds that we may not only be unaware is actually happening but may be powerless to even stop from happening.
Loss of Control
Another cause of car accidents was found to be loss of control from an inability to maneuver our vehicle in dangerous or emergency situations.
Most people think they are good drivers, and that they would be able to cooly navigate emergencies. In truth, many drivers when faced with accidents tend to overcompensate. That can lead to driving off the road, or veering so quickly that the vehicle overturns.
You do not need another driver, either. Simply driving faster than you can control your car, or going too fast over puddles can lead to loss of control.
In many cases, we cannot avoid blind spots or objects that obstruct our view. In fact, businesses that put objects like trees or structures in areas that obstruct views of traffic may be legally liable for accidents that occur due to the inability of drivers to maintain a proper lookout.
In many cases, drivers themselves are responsible. They may not wait for a car to move out of the way, or may just assume that when a view is obstructed from fog, sunlight or even just a winding road, that everything is clear. That faulty assumption is thought to account for about 12% of all traffic accidents.
Lane departure accidents account or about 23% of all accidents. Lane departure accidents can be tough to account for statistically. The accident may be counted as a lane change accident when it fact the cause is something different, such as when someone dozes off or is distracted by their cell phone and veers out of their lane.
Liability Issues are Independent From Exact Causes
Remember that these are ways that cars accident happen; they do not account for who may be liable for an accident. In other words, just because someone does one of these things that cause accidents, does not automatically make them liable. Many defense attorneys have become skilled at making it sound like car accidents are the victim’s fault.
If you are a pedestrian hit by a car rolling through a right turn, you can expect to have defense attorneys questioning you on what you saw and whether you looked out for cars. If you are in a lane change accident, you can expect questions about which car veered into the other’s right of way.
The good news is that even though technology may not be reducing the number of car accidents that occur, it can help solve these factual disputes. In many cases, using cameras, or vehicle black boxes can be key to demonstrating which party is liable for an accident.
Car accidents are complex cases. Understanding how they happen is key to winning your personal injury case. Contact Brill & Rinaldi today about a free consultation if you are injured in an automobile accident.