Cagle Law Firm
Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on September 3rd, 2020,
by Zane Cagle

Labor Day Weekend Road Safety–Reduce Traffic Crashes

Happy Labor Day

Posted on September 3rd, 2020 by Zane Cagle

Estimated death of 390 people due to traffic crashes over Labor Day weekend.  Do your part to drive safely to reduce those numbers!

It is hard to believe it is already Labor Day Weekend.  Yet, at the same time, the last few months have seemed like years due to Covid 19 changes. While many of us are planning for Covid-19 safe travel destinations, we do want to remind you that road traffic crashes alarmingly on the rise this year even though overall traffic is down.  Road safety is not a new concern, however the increases in traffic fatalities is a rising concern.

Summer 2020 has seen a high number of motor vehicle crashes and fatalities even though traffic overall has been dramatically reduced due to the pandemic.   Labor Day weekend is often considered the last official weekend of summer in the Midwest. While many are planning their last big lake or camping weekend, driver safety is a hug concern over the holiday. Logically, when traffic is reduced, the number of motor vehicle crashes should go down. However, that has not been the case this year.  The number of crashes per traveled mile has actually increased.

The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 390 people may die on U.S. roadways over the Labor Day holiday period—-we would like that to be wrong! Everyone would benefit if that estimation is incorrect. Those are fatal motor vehicle accidents that have not occurred yet and we can all do our part to reduce those numbers! With due warning, we each can work to reduce those numbers of fatalities by concentrating on safe driving.

The holiday counting period begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, September 4 and extends until 11:59 p.m. on Monday, September 7, 2020.  Currently, the estimates for traffic deaths this holiday is between 327-462. No one is absolutely certain of the impact on these estimates due to social distancing and the cancellation or changes in events due to Covid-19. What we have seen over the summer is a rise in crashes in spite of reduced traffic. Generally, the holiday weekend includes more social events and events that include alcohol and celebration. Thus, motor vehicle collisions due to impairment usually increase.

Estimated Injuries

An injury is considered a serous enough injury that it requires consultation with a medical professional.  Based on the current medically consulted injury to death ratio of 114:1 and rounded to the nearest hundred, the estimate of nonfatal medically consulted injuries that will result from crashes over the holiday period is estimated at 44,000, range of 37,300 to 52,600.  Suffering an injury due to a motor vehicle crash is the ultimate downer for a celebratory weekend to say the least.

Crashes are Preventable–We Can Reduce Those Numbers

The only solution to reducing motor vehicle crashes is for drivers to exercise great attention. Driving safely includes being an attentive driver, following the rules of the road, observing speed limits,  and buckling up.

Do Not Drive Impaired   Labor Day weekend signalling the end of summer and is usually celebrated with alcohol.  No one says you cannot celebrate with alcoholic drinks, just make a plan.  Be sure that you have a sober driver or have a sober transportation plan. Do not wait until later in the evening to make your plan after you have consumed alcohol.  We NEVER make our best decisions under the influence.  Driving under the influence drastically increases the likelihood of a motor vehicle crash resulting in serious injury or death and at best, a citation.  DUI citations are not a laughing matter and are generally very expensive to overcome.  However, the worst results are car crashes.  Driving under the influence is the very definition of negligence. Each and every one of us have been informed that it is reckless and dangerous not just for ourselves but others on the roadway.  Nationwide, alcohol-impaired fatalities in 2018 represented 29% of the total traffic fatalities. During the 2018 Labor Day weekend, 38% of those fatalities involved an alcohol-impaired driver

Avoid Distracted Driving–put your phone down and drive!  Do not text while you are driving.  Pause a bit when you have a tendency to post to social media while driving. Kicking the habit makes you a far better driver. We should not be endangering ourselves and other motorists by engaging in distracted driving.  Inattentive driving is the number one cause of motor vehicle accidents. Inattentive driving can include distracted driving, but inattentive driving includes any behavior that takes your eyes and attention off of the roadway. Thus, daydreaming and spacing off are considered inattentive driving.  If you drive for long periods of time, take frequent breaks so that you can remain alert.

Buckle Up- We KNOW that seat belts save lives.  I have not talked to one motor vehicle accident client in my career that thought they would have been better off without a seat belt during their crash. Often, the opposite is true.  A seat belt does not guarantee that you will not be injured in a car crash, however, the safety belt does keep you in  the vehicle.  Remaining in the vehicle is most often key to survival. Once ejected, a car crash victim’s chances of a fatal injury increase dramatically.  Seat belts are at least 45% effective in preventing fatalities among front-seat passenger car occupants.  An estimated 154 lives may be saved this holiday weekend because vehicle occupants wear their safety belts.  An additional 95 lives could be saved if everyone wears a safety belts.

Sounds Easy, Right?

“Driving Safely” is a general phrase and many people may think they drive pretty safely overall.  Honestly, do you consider how many times you speed or roll through a stop sign? No, these are not egregious driving behaviors but they are the very behaviors that can cause collisions when you least expect it. When you are in traffic, it can become tempting to try to beat lights or pass other motorists since you have a destination and you are literally sick and tired of being on the road.  We encourage you to resist that urge and keep everyone safe.  Typically, Labor Day weekend is heavy on traffic. If the spring and summer is reflective of this weekend, the lack of or existence of traffic has had little impact on the number of crashes.  Individually, we can each do our part to reduce those numbers through being a patient, safe driver.

What Are the Steps If I’m in a Car Accident?

If you are in any kind of motor vehicle accident, there are some steps that you should take in order to be safe and document this incident:

  1. Call 911 or law enforcement immediately.  The time that you waste checking on others may be minutes an injured person cannot afford.  Law enforcement needs to be called in order to maintain safety (keep other vehicles from having secondary crashes), initiate life-saving measures, and document the crash.  Do not just assume the other driver has valid insurance information and do not assume they will just give you their correct information especially if they are at fault.  Too many times I have talked with an individual who said they just exchanged insurance information only to find out that drivers’s insurance had long since lapsed (even though their card said otherwise) or they gave false information.  It is impossible to make an insurance claim when their is no insurance company.  It is saddening to think there are individuals that would do this kind of thing, but drivers can do some nutty things.
  2. Get information.  Only do this if you are physically able. Clearly, if  you have an injury that necessitates an ambulance, you will not be able to gather insurance information or take photos.  If you are physically able, get the other driver’s name, address, phone number, insurance company and policy number. As well, get their car tag information and TAKE PHOTOS of all vehicles involved in the crash at the scene–if possible.  Take names of any witnesses and their contact information if there are witnesses.  Again, the police officer will get some of this basic information if they are called.   You should know that officers DO NOT usually take any photos of damaged vehicles. The only way that law enforcement take photos is if there is a potential fatality. In a fatal crash, an accident reconstruction team may have to close down the roadway for a period of time to document and investigate the crash.
  3. Seek Medical Help. If you are hurt, go to the doctor. No, it is not convenient.   Seeking medical help is never convenient or fun, no matter how great the doctor is.  However, people that seek medical help after an injury have a much better chance of improvement.  All of the positive thinking and best wishes will not heal a broken leg without medical help.  Seek medical help!
  4. Call an attorney. Before you start calling the insurance adjuster, call an attorney.  Usually, people think that if that offer full transparency to an insurance adjuster, then the insurance company will take care of everything.  We wish this were true.  None of the car accident victims i talk to overshare with the insurance company in an attempt to be devious, nor are they stupid.  Too many people overshare with the insurance company thinking that if they are very upfront and forthcoming, then the insurance company will compensate them fairly.  This is disturbing and very frustrating down the road when you get a letter from the insurance company denying or devaluing your claim.  Talk to an attorney early!  If you end of not being hurt, you will not  need us. We are delighted when people turn out to not be as hurt as they originally thought!  However, that is not generally the rule.  More often individuals end up needing a lot more medical treatment than they originally perceived.  After a crash, it can take several months before you know the full ramifications of a crash injury and know how you will heal.

Call us toll free 1.800.685.3302 or locally 314.276.1681.  Our attorneys are available for free consultations 7 days a week.