Cagle Law Firm
Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on December 17th, 2020,
by Zane Cagle

Fatal Car Crashes Increase Despite Reduced Traffic in Missouri

Seatbelt Cagle Law

Posted on December 17th, 2020 by Zane Cagle

Slow Down and Buckle Up-Missouri crashes climb in spite of less traffic

We are living in a trying time. Please slow down on the roadways and get to your destination, safely.

Traffic on the roadways has been dramatically reduced since March due to shutdowns and many people working remotely.  Generally, when traffic is reduced, crashes decrease.  However, the greater metropolitan St. Louis area has actually seen an increase in fatal car crashes compared to recent years, and we have not even begun the official Christmas and New Year’s Eve traffic period.

The St. Louis police reported 73 fatal wrecks in the city as of Tuesday, December 15, 2020. Twenty-two of those incidents involved pedestrians.  Last year, there were 56 road fatalities in St. Louis which included 14 pedestrian fatalities. Across the state, the Missouri State Highway Patrol has reported that 929 people have died in auto crashes thus far in 2020. That number is the higher than in the last two years.  Road safety begins with each individual. By slowing down, paying attention, following the rules of the road, and wearing our seat belts, we can have safer roadways.

Considering that most of us are driving far less miles per person, having 929 crash fatalities so far this year is terrible.   When evaluating fatal crash data, it has been stunning to see the number of fatally injured auto occupants that were not wearing a seatbelt while the vehicle was in motion.  Seat belts do not guarantee that an occupant will not be injured, but seatbelts do promise to keep the person in the vehicle.  Surviving a car crash increases dramatically when you stay in the vehicle opposed to being ejected.  Ejected occupants have a dramatically lower survivability score. Please Buckle Up whether traveling across the state or the grocery store.

The number of pedestrian fatalities have been particularly high in 2020.  Typically, when people think of pedestrian fatalities, they think of busy downtown traffic and throngs of people weaving among the cars.  We did not see those numbers this year as downtown activities have been pretty much eliminated due to Covid-19. A high number of pedestrian fatalities have occurred on busy highways and interstates across Missouri around disabled vehicles.

SLOW DOWN AND BUCKLE UP

Experts Say Speed and Recklessness Often Involved

Many traffic and crash experts said that traffic drastically decreased during the stay-at-home orders and traffic has stayed relatively low in comparison to pre-pandemic travel.   However, police say they are seeing drivers traveling much faster and more recklessly.

While it is very tempting to speed when there is less traffic, please resist the temptation.  Our attorneys are seeing more crashes involving drivers who are speeding, crossing multiple lanes, and tailgating.  While we all have a destination that we are trying to reach, we all want to get their safely.  If you have traveled downtown in the last five months and many areas directly north of downtown, you have seen concrete barriers reducing traffic to one lane. These barriers were placed simply because of the dangerous driving that was occurring downtown in the form of speeding and racing.  That behavior resulted in serious crashes and fatalities.

While traffic is always a little stressful, many of us have so many other things on our minds during this difficult time. But, when we are focused on so many other things other than driving, we can become inattentive. Inattentiveness is the most common cause of car crashes.  If you are injured or worse, then all other matters seem far less important.

Pedestrian Fatalities Increase Around Disabled Vehicles

A higher number of pedestrian fatalities have occurred due to vehicle being disabled roadside and occupants being struck by other vehicles in traffic. These incidents are horrifying and tragic.

No one expects their car to breakdown. If you think your car may not be highway-worthy, it is really best not to risk it.    Never pull over to the shoulder of a highway or interstate unless an officer signals you to do so or your vehicle stalls (Even then, an officer will usually be happy to follow you to an exit if you ask).  As of mid-December there have been 103 pedestrians struck and killed by vehicles across the state of Missouri.

SLOW DOWN, AND BUCKLE UP

Missouri Highway Patrol Capt John Hotz says that anyone whose car breaks down should try to get their vehicle as far off the roadway as possible. If the vehicle cannot be moved, “We recommend that people stay inside their vehicle with their seat belt on. Oftentimes when people experience problems along the roadway, they lose sight of the fact that they are in or very close to a busy highway” said Hotz.   If you have ever been on the roadside for any reason, it becomes very apparent that many passing vehicles simply do not see you.  Clearly, if your hazard lights are on, they “should” see your vehicle.  While other drivers “should” see you, the fact remains that they often do not or do not pay attention. The shoulder of any highway or interstate is the most dangerous place that you can be on the roadway.  Call authorities immediately so that they may assist in traffic while you wait on roadside service.   Officers would much rather aid in traffic safety than assist in a fatal crash.

We have discussed how dangerous it is to have a disabled car on the shoulder and the number of road assist workers killed in the line of duty. As I have seen far too many of these type of tragic collisions, I simply will not pull the car over on the roadway for any reason including vomiting kids, spilled drinks and just about any other thing that initially makes you think you should pull over.  Literally, there has to be a life-threatening event happening in the vehicle or the vehicle simply will not travel any further in order for you to “pull over”.  My complete aversion to pulling over for any reason was a stark contrasts to how my parents did things. However, my parents mostly drove on dirt roads when I was a kid, and we did not travel at the current speeds and among interstate traffic.  While we know the shoulder of any highway or interstate can be dangerous, I have talked with more than a few people who had something similar happen on a gravel road as well.

You absolutely cannot count on other drivers paying attention.  If you are injured by someone that doesn’t see you or because they failed to pay attention, we can assist you in getting the much needed compensation. However, we would really like to help PREVENT these horrible traffic incidents!

What are the Steps After a Car Crash

Knowing what steps to take should a car crash happen is preventative action.   While most people have a fire escape plan for their house, few people think about what steps they will need to take after a car accident. Yet, most everyone at some point in their lives will be involved in some type of car accident.  Hopefully, the crash will not be serious in nature.

Step One–Call 911.  Whether it seemed like a hard impact or not, call 911 if you are able.  Do not wait.  There may  be an occupant in one of the crashes that may not have moments to spare in getting life-saving medical help.  Even if there is not a life-threatening injury, you need an officer there to document the crash.  It occurs way too often that people just exchange information only to discover the other person’s insurance has lapsed, they actually have no insurance or their account of the event is completely different than yours.

Step Two-Gather information and photographs. Gather all information from the other driver including photos of the vehicles at the scene, names, phone numbers, insurance information and any witness names and contact information (of course, this is assuming you are physically able to do so. If seriously injured, the officers will gather as much information as possible)

Step Three-Seek medical treatment.  If you are having pain, go to the doctor.  If the pain develops in the days after the crash–go to the doctor.  While it is tempting to wait and not seek medical treatment, do not delay.  More often than not, people only regret treatment they did not get. Few people have EVER told me that they regretted going to the doctor.  Seeking medical treatment is how you get better which is our first priority  and yours.

Step  Four- Call an Attorney.  Call an attorney BEFORE you start calling insurance carriers.  Do not make statements about the crash and DO NOT make statements about your injury to the adjusters.

Slow Down and Be Safe

Very few people are avoiding difficulties right now.  Many are out of work, out of food, and patience.  The well of patience is much deeper than food insecurity and economic crisis.   Traffic crashes are equalizers, meaning serious injuries and fatalities do not follow patterns of social class, gender or wealth. Traffic crashes can happen literally to everyone. We have to collectively decide that we are going to be safe and not drive like there is no tomorrow.

Literally, the very last thing that any of us have time to do is cope with an injury auto accident.  There is never a “good time” for a motor vehicle crash, but during this pandemic there are even more questions than usual.  We answer questions for those injured in motor vehicle crashes every day.  It is not an easy process to go through and you certainly do not want to go through it alone.

Our attorneys are available seven days a week to answer your questions and offer free consultations. If you are unsure if you need an attorney, we can help. Not every person that has been in a crash needs an attorney. Truly, the defining question is whether or not you are injured.

Call us toll free 1.800.685.3302 or locally 314.276.1681