Posted on April 7th, 2022 by Zane Cagle
Buckle Up and Drive Sober
It is a big day downtown St. Louis! Not only are we super exited about baseball, but we are excited about downtown St. Louis combing back to life!!! With that return, we also see traffic which many of us may have forgotten about. Without sapping the energy of the celebration: please drink up, celebrate and have a plan to get home safely!
In the last two years, we have grown accustomed to less traffic and honestly, it shows. Many people have become a little lax about driving evident in our climbing crash numbers. The number of motor vehicle crashes resulting in serious injuries and fatal crashes were not actually reduced during lockdown or during the last two years when fewer motorists were on the roadways. One would think that when traffic was reduced, the number of collisions would go down. It didn’t work that way. Experts credited speeding, reduced seat belt wearing, and recklessness for the increase in crashes with fewer miles driven per person. Perfect. Those are three behaviors each one of us can address.
Are you are planning on attending Cardinals games this spring and summer and tossing back a few? Great! Make a plan. Plan on a sober driver or be sure you have the ride-share apps downloaded on your phone. You may want to pre-set some addresses. Clearly, if you are having a hard time putting in your destination address–you absolutely should not get behind the wheel if you need a more direct hint.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Yes, we repeat Don’t Drink & Drive, A lot. From our perspective, we see the tragic results of drunk driving. It is not just the possible citations and DWI court, but we see the life-changing injuries and deaths of both drunk drivers and innocent motorists. When a trip to the grocery store turns one’s life upside down due life-changing injuries or worse, it becomes a bigger challenge than just personal perseverance. These type of serious car crashes are life-changing for the severely injured and the drunk driver. Why in the world would even take the chance of being involved in such a negative life-changing event when it can be so clearly avoided?
Follow the Rules of the Road
With increasing traffic, we have to remember our increasing need for patience. Our patience quotient may be about tapped out by the time we hit the roadway, but it is needed during your commute most of all. In fact, most inconveniences of traffic such as being passed results in merely seconds of time. Meaning, if you don’t make that green light, you will not actually lost 10-15 minutes of your life at that intersection. We have all been next to that inpatient driver that swerves in and out of traffic to get to the light faster and maybe coast through on a yellow. In the end, you usually arrive at Walmart (or similar destination) at about the same time. The opportunity for a collision can be high in safe conditions, thus disregarding rules of the roadway greatly increases your likelihood of being in a crash. In reality, if we all follow the rules of the road, traffic would move at a far more efficient rate rather than when we try to bypass the roadway rules.
Avoid Reckless Driving
Reckless driving is not specific to distracted driving or even aggressive driving though we see way too much of both. Put down your phone while you are driving. There is no such thing as being good at texting and driving. It is an absurd argument. When you are looking at your phone, you are missing important signals and information! Using your phone while driving is only a problem if you are in a motor vehicle crash, right? However, at point, it is too late. When you are in a crash while on your phone, you are immediately on the defensive and scrutinized no matter how the crash occurred. The glaring obvious problem in making a claim or arguing liability (if in a car crash while on your phone)with the adjuster or a potential juror (not equals) is that you have this big sign around your neck saying you were not paying attention. As phones have been in our lives for two decades, everyone knows that being on your phone while driving is problematic. We all know that distracted driving is dangerous and since we all know it, it can be viewed as reckless because we all know better!
As motor vehicle crash attorneys, we view the crash data daily. The sheer number of unrestrained motorists who are seriously injured or killed is really high in Missouri and across the country. For some reason, the rate of seat belt use has dropped in the last two years in Missouri. That is not to say that all serious injuries and/or fatalities can all be prevented. The statistics year after year are undeniable. Your risk of death as a front seat passenger wearing a seat belt is reduced by 45% and the risk for serious injury drops by 50% when you are restrained. In 2019, 47 % of passenger vehicle occupants killed were unrestrained. Seat belts saved an estimated 15,000 lives and could have saved an additional estimated 3,000 lives if used. Those rates go up even higher if you are in a light truck (60% fatality reduction and 64% moderate to critical injury). So few things in this world reduce our likelihood of serious injury or death by anything close to FORTY PERCENT! NHTSA
It’s a high enough percentage that it has been a personal habit for years. Vehicles made in the last 25 years remind you. In fact, you have to make a concerted effort to not put on a seatbelt these days. Buckle Up.
We can each make the roadways safer for ourselves, our loved ones and friends. Unfortunately, making unsafe roadway decisions often have natural consequences that usually hurt the individual as much as anyone else. Thus, it’s really not a either/or choice
What to do after a crash?
While we take steps daily to not be in a motor vehicle collision, they have happened to most of us. It is better to have a plan than trying to wing it. There are some steps/advice I give to every single person as failing to do these things can cause you significant problems.
#1 Call the Police. This is usually the first mistake that drivers make after a collision with another vehicle. Failing to call the police enters you into a high stakes gamble. You are gambling that the other driver will retell the episode in the same way and you are really gambling on whether or not they give you correct information.
#2 Seek Medical Treatment. If you feel pain, go to the doctor. Failing to seek medical treatment does two things. One, you fail to get the help that you need to recover and two, you fail to get documentation of you injury. Clearly, the biggest downfall by failing to get medical treatment is that you fail to have the best medical recovery possibly. Ultimately, that really is the most important thing after a car collision, correct?
# 4 Take Photos at the Scene if You are Able. If you are taken away via ambulance, you obviously will not be able to take photos. If you do not need emergency medical transport, take photos of your car and the other vehicles involved. A decade ago, getting pictures may have seemed like an ordeal. However, in 2022, it may be hard to actually find a cell phone that does not have a camera.
#5 Do Not Discuss Your Injuries with the Insurance Adjuster. No one know the extent of their injuries or how they will heal for some time. Do not share any of your medical treatment information or even parts of the body injured with the insurance adjuster. For one, you and your medical providers should discover what is wrong with you and see how you recover before you start sharing with an adjuster. Two, the adjuster often does not really care about you but they are trying to gauge how big of an injury you have in order to defend against it. Do not share whether or not you have health insurance and it is not any of their business who your health insurance carrier is. Share no medical information, period.
#6 Call an Attorney. If the flags of caution after a crash don’t go up immediately, you might being missing something obvious. I talk to many people who wish they had consulted a lawyer much, much earlier in the process. You only get one chance to make your injury claim correctly and there are many opportunities to fudge it up along the way. Very smart, honest and nice people mess up their injury claims and it has nothing to do with intelligence or business acumen.
We happily talk with anyone following a motor vehicle crash, confidentially. We would much rather talk with you BEFORE you engage with the insurance company as it usually does not play out like the insurance commercials on television. Often times we speak with someone who actually does not need legal representation. When someone ends up not being hurt and not needing our legal assistance, we are delighted. The one mistake you make is not calling an attorney or thinking your questions are simple or silly. The only simple, silly questions are the ones not asked.
We answer calls seven days a week, toll free 1.800.685.3302 or locally 314.276.1681