What Factors Cause Fatal Car Crashes?

Fatal traffic collisions occur due to a variety of reasons, often the negligent actions of other drivers on the roadway. Such negligence-related collisions frequently result in wrongful death lawsuits in Portland and other cities. Examining the leading causes of fatal crashes can help the general public understand the main risks associated with operating on Oregon roadways so they can take steps to increase safety awareness each time they get behind the wheel. The CDC states that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for individuals aged 1 through 54 in the US. But what causes these incidents?

Speeding – The Leading Cause of Collisions

Data provided by the Oregon Department of Transportation shows that there were well over 3,000 crashes during the most recent reporting year involving a driver going too fast for conditions or exceeding the posted speed limit. These incidents often lead to significant injuries. The higher the speed, the more of a traumatic impact drivers and passengers will endure as a result of the collision. 

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that there were 12,330 people killed as a result of speeding across the country in 2021. The agency is quick to point out that driver and passenger safety can be affected even if individuals are driving at the correct speed limit but too fast for current roadway conditions, such as during bad weather, when a road is undergoing maintenance, or if there is heavy traffic.

Following Others Too Closely – Slow the Pace

Drivers who follow others too closely significantly impede the amount of time they have to avoid hazardous roadway situations. Drivers should always follow at least a two-second rule, which sees them leave two seconds of time in between themselves and any vehicles in front of them. However, this two-second rule could most certainly be a three or four-second rule to increase driver safety. Following too closely increases the risk of several types of accidents, including rear-end incidents. 

This type of driving behavior is even more dangerous when operating around larger commercial vehicles because underride accidents can lead to the smaller passenger vehicle sliding completely underneath a larger vehicle, sometimes shearing off the top of the smaller vehicle.

Driver Distractions – Pay Attention to the Roadway

Distracting occurs in a variety of ways, but the CDC narrows this type of driving down to three main types of distractions:

  1. Visual distractions where a person takes their eyes off of the road.
  2. Manual distractions where a driver takes their hands off the wheel.
  3. Cognitive distractions where a driver takes their mind off of driving.

Studies show that approximately 3,000 individuals lose their lives every year across the country as a result of some type of distracted driving. This could include looking at a cell phone, sending or receiving text messages, taking videos or selfies, and more.

Alcohol and Drugs – A Recipe for Collision

The NHTSA says that more than 13,300 individuals lost their lives as a result of traffic collisions caused by alcohol impairment in 2021. Unfortunately, alcohol-impaired traffic accidents are a leading cause of fatal collisions in every state year after year, usually right behind speeding as the leading cause of fatal traffic collisions. It reduces the brain’s ability to function and reason clearly and cuts down on a person’s ability to react to changing roadway situations quickly.