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Cagle Law Firm
Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on February 5th, 2021,
by Zane Cagle

New Crash Tests Show Increase in Speed Can Have Deadly Consequences

Blurred windshield and steering wheel

Posted on February 5th, 2021 by Zane Cagle

If you’ve been on the roadways in the greater St. Louis metro area, you may have noticed changes in traffic. One, there is often a lot less of it;  and two, traffic may seem more erratic.  While the Missouri State Highway Patrol and other law enforcement have warned that more people are traveling at excessive speeds and these crashes are causing serious injuries and death.   While you can easily be injured in a low speed crash, high speed collisions are often far more traumatic and deadly.  While increased speeds seems to be consistent since the beginning of the pandemic, experts have been studying the impact of incremental speed differences and the impact of speed on the severity of collisions.

According to a recent study completed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHSA), they found that slightly higher speeds were enough to increase the driver’s risk of severe injury or death.  Their study conducted crashes at three different impact speeds (40,50 and 56 mph). They found that even these slightly higher speeds increase driver’s risks for serious crashes/

Drivers often travel faster than posted speed limits. When speed limits are raised, people still go faster. Today, 41 states allow 70 mph or higher speeds on some highway and interstates, including 8 states that have a maximum of 80 mph or more.  A 2019, IIHS study found that raising speed limits have cost nearly 37,000 lives over 25 years.  “We conducted these crash tests to asses the effect of speeds on driving and learned that a small increase could make a big difference on the harm to a human body,” said Dr. David Yan, executive driver at the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “A speeding driver may arrive at their destination a few minutes faster, but is the tradeoff of getting severely injured or even losing on\e’s life worth it if a crash occurs?”

Higher Speeds Cancel Out Benefits of Vehicle Safety Improvements

In the last two decades, car manufacturers have made great gains in safety features including safety belts, air bags, side air bag and design of the auto body to decrease injury.  “The faster a driver is going before a crash, the less likely it is that they’ll be able to get down to a survivable speed even if they have a chance to brake before impact”, said Dr. David Harkey, IIHS president.  Also, each occupant must utilize all of the safety features, meaning, just because your car has air bags, it does not mean you can refrain from using your safety belt.  Air bags are designed to  work WITH seat belts, not in place of.

“Cars are safer than they’ve ever been, but nobody’s figured out how to make them defy the laws of physics, ” continued Harkey.  Dr. Harkey suggested that rather  than raising speed limits, states should vigorously enforce the limits that they have.

Statistics Aside, How Can I Be Safer in My Car?

There are several ways to increase your safety on the roadway.  Good news, many of these factors can be controlled directly by you.  Whether you are driving two blocks to the store or across the state, utilizing standard safety work to decrease your likelihood of being involved in a motor vehicle crash. 

ALWAYS WEAR YOUR SEAT BELT.  Making it a habit is not really hard.  It should be such a habit that as soon as you get in a car, you reach for the safety belt.

FOLLOW THE RULES OF THE ROAD. The most common place for crashes are where roadways merge and intersect.  Pay close attention to the right of way.

USE YOUR SIGNALS. It is the original way we communicated since the creation of vehicles. Use your signals,  so another driver doesn’t have to try to guess where you are going. Failure to signal is a very common cause of crashes.

CONTROL YOUR SPEED.  Yes, we get impatient and we want to get to our destination quickly.  Speed limits are set for safer travel for all.  Speeding is an avoidable cause of motor vehicle crashes.

DRIVE SOBER– This should go without saying.  For some reason, we still have people who decide to climb behind the wheel after they have consumed alcohol.

Traffic Can Bring Out the Frustration

These are difficult times.   Hands down the Coronavirus has impacted the lives of every one of us. We all have a lot on our minds.  So, how can you be expected to be super safety conscious when you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders?

Actually, those decisions in a moment such as whether or not you chose to speed or roll through a red light can actually have life-changing consequences.  You can be distracted by serious life issues and end up in a crash that only contributes to worsen your current life-changing situation.  Reckless behind the wheel can only compound the problems. The problem is that we are becoming less patient and less forgiving in general on the roads while we struggle with these challenges.

We each much make a conscious effort to focus on driving and being courteous.  We are seeing more violence in the greater St. Louis and we are seeing more violence on the actual roadways.

Little Things Make a Difference

Simple actions like driving courteously can make a difference in you arriving home safely or being injured.  Drive at the recommended speed though speeding is so tempting.  No one plans for a car crash, but we all want to plan and prepare for any incident and increase our ability to survive and thrive in the worst case scenario.  According to the IIHS research, maintaining safe speeds decreases your likelihood of being in a crash and decreases the likelihood of a severe injury or death.  Make full use of all safety suggestions by wearing a seat belt and driving safely.  There is never a “good” time to be in a motor vehicle crash.  However, the last thing we need is the additional complication of a serious injury due to a motor vehicle collision.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

While car crashes are called “accidents”, they are rarely “accidental”.  The word “accident” implies is was sheer coincidence of events.  Motor vehicle crashes are rarely purely “accidental” and without cause. Thus, when you obtain a police report, they are titled “incident reports” for that very reason.  Motor vehicle incidents have a cause and/or several contributing causes.  Almost all crashes have the cause of  human error.  Drivers make mistakes and their mistakes can cause grievous injury.  Drivers do not make these mistakes on purpose–that would be a criminal matter.  However, when any of us make driving errors that result in the injury of others, we have “liability” or fault.  It is not a judgement of value of the driver as an individual.  It is also why each one of us is required to have auto insurance.  Insurance by design is risk management.  Most of us buy insurance with the understanding that insurance will reimburse or compensate when we or another makes a driving error.  We pay auto  insurance premiums for decades with the understanding that claims will be honored should we have a crash.    The problem that one faces is when an auto insurance carrier is not cooperative about covering those expenses.

If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident/incident that was not your fault, you will need legal assistance.  Injured individuals have ongoing medical treatment and should not try to rush to settle their claim.   If you’ve been hurt, then there are some steps that you should take and some mistakes you want to AVOID.

Our attorneys represent those injured in motor vehicle accidents.  Our clients medical care and good outcomes are our number one priority.  If you are hurt, you should not be giving medical updates to an adjuster. Likewise, it can feel completely beyond control to  deal with a long-term claim and feel at-the-mercy of an insurance adjuster.   Being anxious about a claim does not assist you in maximum healing.

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