There are so many advantages to having a car. Opportunities open for visiting with family, friends, work, school, and travel that would involve much more time and effort without a vehicle.
But good things sometimes come with problems, and for drivers, a major downside of owning a vehicle is the possibility of a car accident.
Even a minor fender-bender can create havoc in a person’s life, but more serious accidents will harm the people in those cars and damage the vehicles themselves.
In 2020, while much of New Jersey was staying home, people worked remotely or in staggered shifts, and restaurants and bars closed or offered take-out only. It would be natural to assume that since there were less vehicles on the road, there would be less accidents.
Although the figures for 2020 accidents have not yet been released by the state, the New Jersey State Police released a report stating that more people died on Garden State roads in 2020 than the year before, an increase of close to 10 percent.
This makes the idea that more vehicles on the road mean more accidents questionable. Accidents happen because drivers make mistakes and cars make those mistakes more dangerous.
Steps to Take after a Car Accident
When a person is involved in a car accident, there are a few important steps to take immediately:
- Check to see if everyone is OK.
- Call 911 even if everyone looks OK. This is important because a lot of car accident injuries do not make themselves known right away. Adrenaline and endorphins are pumping through the body, and the injury might not be realized until hours later. This call will also bring police to the scene, which will be helpful for getting an accident report. Insurance companies and courts will use that report as your case goes forward.
- Accept the medical care offered. This will allow a record of injuries, which will help establish the victim’s needs going forward.
- Exchange insurance information with the other people involved.
- Call the insurance company to start the claim process.
- Document everything. Cell phone cameras are great in these situations. Take pictures of what is damaged.
- Consult a lawyer. Accident laws are complicated, and victims need an advocate to make sure their compensation fits their needs.
Reasons for Most Car Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), close to 90 percent of the reasons behind all car accidents is driver error. Some poor driver behaviors, though, are more common:
Speeding. Most drivers are tempted to go over the speed limit, particularly in spots of the road that are mostly empty or well-known to the driver. It is important to remember that speed limits are not set up by the government to make a driver’s commute times unnecessarily long; they are based on the number of accidents on the road, the amount of traffic on the road, and the population density. Going too fast also makes accidents worse. Speeding is often a factor in another common cause of accidents: running red lights.
Because high speeds and heavy objects create force, the impact of a collision at high speeds is much greater for the car occupants. With massive impact on collision, the people inside the vehicles involved in an accident are more likely to suffer severe or catastrophic injuries, sometimes fatal injuries.
Tailgating. This is the kind of driver mistake that drivers see most often on the road. It is the result of the driver in the back following too closely, so that they are then unable to respond in time if the driver in front either hits the brakes suddenly or comes to a stop. This does not have to be a situation of speeding; it could happen in a parking lot. Just as speeding is often the cause of drivers running through red lights, tailgating is often the result of aggressive driving or distracted driving. Unfortunately, for the driver in the back end of the fender-bender, courts and insurance companies look poorly on these motorists.
Distracted driving. This is a problem that has inspired both car manufacturers and cell phone manufacturers to come up with new technologies to reduce the chance of people looking at their phones while driving. Bluetooth technologies have helped tremendously with this, as drivers can use voice-activated commands. But although this poor driving behavior may have become more of an issue with the introduction of cell phones, distracted driving does not require a cell phone. Many people want to multitask while sitting still behind the wheel of a car, so distracted driving is commonplace. Personal grooming, checking directions, checking on passengers, eating and drinking are all consistent distractions for many drivers.
Aggressive driving. Road rage is an exaggerated form of aggressive driving. But aggressive driving behaviors include some much more commonplace actions seen on the road, such as tailgating, yelling and making rude hand gestures at other drivers, and driving in and out of lanes. All of these are commonplace; they are also likely to cause an accident.
Drunk driving. People driving under the influence are much less likely to react quickly and appropriately to changes in the road or the traffic in front of them. Getting a ride from a sober friend or calling a rideshare service or a taxi is a far better alternative than assuming it is safe to drive after a few drinks.
Drugged driving. Marijuana consumption is now legal in New Jersey for those over 21, but that does not mean it is alright to drive after smoking pot. The United States is still dealing with an opioid crisis, which spells out clearly that prescription drugs do not mean a person is not under the influence of an intoxicating substance.
Running red lights. Intersection accidents are often caused by this bad driving behavior. It can be the result of speeding, but it can also be a conscious decision by a driver to not wait for the light to turn again. There is also a solid chance that the driver is not paying attention to the changing lights and is lost in thought or otherwise distracted.
Defective vehicles. There are accidents every year that happen because there is a mistake on the product line for either an automobile or a part to one, such as tires or airbags.
Wrong-way driving. Metropolitan areas often rely on one-way streets to control traffic. Driving the wrong way can easily happen to a motorist in an unfamiliar area. This also happens at highway entry and exit ramps if they are not visibly marked, or the driver simply goes into the wrong one.
Improper turns. Illegal U-turns are a well-established cause of accidents. Also, an improper turn can veer into another lane while making a turn, such as when two or three lanes turn on a highway on- or off-ramp. The driver in the next lane over will be focused on turning and unlikely to react in time if another car comes into their lane, and is not likely to be able to stop even if they do see the car veering into their lane.
Car accidents create all kinds of difficulties for those involved. If you or a loved one has been in a car accident, reach out to the Hazlet car accident lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova for assistance. We help victims by determining liable parties and ensuring victims receive the compensation they deserve. Call us at 732-705-3363 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Hazlet and Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in Ocean County and Sussex County, and Pennsylvania.