When we think about car accidents, we usually think of the two most prevalent kind of accidents. They include rear-end accidents, or intersection accidents, where someone runs a red light or stop sign. But there is another, common and often very deadly type of car accident: Lane departure accidents.
Why are Lane Departure Cases so Serious?
Lane Departure accidents are so dangerous because they occur while the car is in motion, and thus the accident usually occurs at a high speed, unlike a rear end car accident, where sometimes the low speeds can prevent serious injury. At such high speeds, a car that even gently brushes against a side wall, or another car, can careen uncontrollably, flip over, or sustain serious impact.
Lane departure accidents that happen on major highways can end up involving multiple vehicles, which are unable to avoid the accident in front of them.
Lane departure cases can also end up in collisions with objects, such as trees, canals, or sidewalls. In some cases, on elevated on ramps or highways, collision with sidewalls can result on cars going over the edge.
How Do Lane Departure Accidents Happen?
As the name implies, lane departure car accidents involve any car accident where a car veers from the lane that it is supposed to be in. Lane departure cases can occur for a number of reasons, including anything from drunk driving, to distracted driving, to simply being tired and drowsy behind the wheel.
Lane departure accidents can involve a number of different scenarios. The one we think most often of, is the case where a car veers from its line, sideswiping another vehicle. Similar to this is the driver that does not accidentally and slightly veer from its lane, but rather, purposefully changes lanes without checking for clearance, or has another car in the driver’s blind spot as the he or she is changing lanes.
Lane departure can be even more serious on smaller, two lane highways, where oncoming traffic is coming from the opposite direction. In these cases, two vehicles going at high speeds are colliding head-on. The combined impact can be devastating and in many cases, deadly. Like other cases, these can occur where a driver simply veers from a lane, but also where a driver purposely enters the opposite lane in an attempt to pass slower drivers in front of them.
We may not realize how common lane departure car accidents are, but the Florida Department of Transportation estimates that 39% of car accidents involve lane departures. The FDOT specifically excludes intersection accidents from its definition of lane departure incidents.
New Technology May Help
Lane departure accidents are being combated through the use of technology. Many newer cars are coming equipped with the ability to sense when a car is veering from its lane.
Some cars now have lane departure warning systems, which will sound an alarm when the car is going too far into an adjacent lane. Unlike systems that just warn with an alarm, lane departure prevention systems actually take control of the car, and gently guide it back into its lane when the system senses that the car has veered out of its lane.
But these systems are receiving mixed reviews for their ability to prevent accidents. There are no definitive studies demonstrating how effective they are; according to the AAA, the studies that have been done have shown that the devices can reduce the chance of a fatality due to a lane departure accident only be between 1-8%.
Still, the systems have been effective at lane-keeping. Some studies have shown that lane-keeping improves by 34% with the systems. There is of course no way to know how many of those potential improper lane changes which would have occurred without the devices, would have resulted in an accident or fatality.
And surveys have shown that between 60% and 80% of drivers say the systems make them safer drivers, and find the systems to be useful. So even without hard data, at least subjectively, the systems seem to be helping drivers be more aware of lane safety.
The systems are still no replacement for human observation. They work by “observing” through radar the lane markers. But lane markers that are faded, or obscured by snow or dirt, may not trigger the radar. Even low light situations can throw these systems off.
Tough Legal Issues in Lane Departure Cases
Lane departure cases can sometimes be tough legal cases. When a lane change is involved, there may be differing stories between the drivers as to who moves into whose lane. In many cases, a car seeking to change lanes will properly confirm the adjacent lane is clear, only to have a vehicle move into the lane at the last minute, or because it came up unexpectedly due to traveling at an illegal speed.
Here, there can be liability disputes in trial over whether the car changing lanes is at fault, or the car that unexpectedly appeared in the once empty lane is at fault. To come to a determination, lawyers and experts will look to markings on the road, and the location and type of damage to the vehicle, to try to recreate the accident.
The same argument can occur with head on accidents on narrow roads, where both drivers may have the perception that they were properly in their lane, and that the other driver was the one who veered off of theirs.
Car accidents can happen in a number of different ways. The analysis for each may be different. Contact Brill & Rinaldi today about a free consultation to discuss your car accident case.