It can happen all too easily…You forget to get your vehicle inspection certificate, or you pop out in the car for a couple of drinks with friends, or maybe you decide to check your SMS messages while driving.
These seemingly harmless actions can have devastating consequences.
We never intend to have a car accident. But, they can happen in a split second. One minute you’re driving, the next you’ve lost control and find yourself in a serious road accident.
It’s not just your own driving you need to be careful of, though; you need to watch out for other drivers, too.
In 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported:
- 36,560 deaths on US roads
- 6283 pedestrian deaths in auto accidents
- 857 cyclists killed in car accidents
Every driver in the US has a responsibility for the safety of their vehicle and their conduct on the road. The more risks a driver takes on the road, the higher chance they have of causing a wrongful death.
Main Causes of Wrongful Deaths in Car Accidents
90% of car accidents are caused by human error.
The NHTSA cites the main causes of car accidents as:
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
- Drug driving
- Not wearing seat-belts
- Drowsy driving
According to NHTSA, nearly 30 people die in the US as a result of drunk driving. The most comprehensive and recent data from 2010 shows that drunk driving cost $44 billion in damages in that year alone.
Driving while under the influence of alcohol is dangerous because it impairs reasoning, reaction time, and coordination. When drunk, a person may think they are in control when in fact they represent a serious danger to themselves and others.
In August 2020, a neurosurgeon was charged with manslaughter for killing a medical student who was a passenger in his car while drunk. The family of the student has now filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the doctor.
Not only does the doctor potentially face jail, but he could also be faced with a huge fine for damages and a career in ruins.
In 2018, distracted driving killed 2,841 people. 1,730 of those people were drivers, 605 were passengers, 400 were pedestrians, and 77 were cyclists.
Distracted driving is doing anything that prevents you from staying focused on driving. This could be using a cell phone, eating, texting, talking, driving, fiddling with the satnav, anything that takes your mind off the job at hand.
Text messaging and social media are the worst distractions. If you’re driving at 55 mph, and you’re sending a text message for 5 seconds, you’ll have traveled a considerable distance without your eyes on the road.
If you cause an accident and kill someone, not only can you be convicted of distracted driving, you can also end up being sued for causing wrongful death.
In 2018, speeding caused the deaths of 9,378 people on US roads, making it the second-highest cause of deaths after drunk driving.
Speeding is a form of aggressive driving. People speed for a number of reasons including:
- Traffic congestion
- Running late
- Disregard for the law
- Disregards for others
- Road rage
Speeding is risky driving because it’s easier to lose control of a vehicle at higher speeds. Also, it gives you less time to slow down or stop in an emergency. If an accident occurs, the greater the speed, the more severe the crash and the higher likelihood of causing death.
It just isn’t worth the risk. Causing a person’s death or multiple deaths due to speeding can result in a wrongful death lawsuit as well as a jail sentence.
Driving under the influence of marijuana, cocaine, opioids, methamphetamine, or amphetamine is highly dangerous.
The NHTSA found that 20% of night-time drivers at the weekend tested positive for drugs when stopped. That means one-fifth of drivers were drug-impaired.
The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) recorded that 12.6 million people drove after having taken illicit drugs.
Substance-impairment makes a person unable to judge distances effectively and affects their spatial awareness. Marijuana, for instance, significantly slows reaction times and reduces the ability to multitask.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that drivers who test positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of cannabis, have double the chance of causing a serious road traffic accident than those who don’t.
Driving Without a Seat Belt
47% of fatal auto accidents are caused by drivers without a seat belt.
Driving buckled up is safer because it prevents you from being thrown out of the car if you hit something. Airbags alone are inadequate if you shunt into someone or something.
Passengers must also be strapped in. If passengers don’t wear a seat belt and you hit something, they could be ejected from your seat causing serious injury to the person sitting in the front.
Driving without a seat belt can potentially cause a serious accident including death. A wrongful death lawyer could file a lawsuit against you.
Driving while tired caused 795 deaths in 2017.
Driving longer distances can get monotonous, and if you’ve not slept so well the night before you could fall asleep at the wheel and cause a serious accident.
Drowsy driving crashes tend to occur between midnight and 6am or in the late afternoon after lunch. Typically, drowsy driving accidents happen to lone drivers.
To drive responsibly it’s vital to get a good night’s sleep, and also to avoid consuming any alcohol. When driving late at night or in the afternoon, it’s advisable to stop periodically for short breaks or micro naps during longer journeys.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
If your dangerous driving causes death, you could find yourself with a wrongful death lawsuit. A good wrongful death lawyer will work hard on the behalf of the deceased person’s family to get as much compensation as possible.
You could find yourself not only devastated about causing someone’s death and facing jail. You could also be liable for:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Lost wages, employment benefits, and future wages
- Replacement of lost inheritance
- Compensation for a person’s loss of companionship
- The deceased person’s medical bills after the accident and before the death
Awareness of the severe consequences should give people the incentive to drive more carefully. The financial risk is devastating, but most of all you could never live with yourself if your dangerous driving killed a family’s loved one.