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Top 4 Driving Behaviors That Cause A Serious Motor Vehicle Accident

In the first three months of 2017, there were 81 deaths related to serious motor vehicle accidents. The good news is this is down from 110 fatalities in 2016 (same time period). If we analyze the accidents and the underlying behaviors that contributed to the accidents we can see 4 main causes emerging – 1) loss of control, 2) failure to obey basic driving laws, 3) driving under the influence, and 4) a “no explanation” category.

By taking the time to review the behaviors that cause these accidents, maybe we can trigger a change in our driving habits that will minimize the chances of being involved in a serious motor vehicle accident.

Driving Behaviors That Cause Serious Accidents

Here is a summary of the serious motor vehicle accidents and driving behaviors that caused fatalities and major injuries in the first 3 months of 2017:

firemen with burning car

1) Loss of Control

Loss of control of the vehicle is one of the major factors in causing serious motor vehicle accidents. The real question is what causes a driver to lose control – excessive speed, distracted driving, and weather conditions are all key factors. For example, on February 5, 2017, in Coos Bay, Oregon, an 18-year-old driver crossed over the highway centerline and crashed head-on into a police vehicle. Two people died in this serious motor vehicle accident, and three others were seriously injured. Whether the driver was distracted and momentarily focused on a cell phone, radio, or just not paying attention we will never know. But what we do know is four families have been affected forever. This scenario was repeated many times with one driver becoming distracted for just a few seconds, and veering head-on into oncoming traffic. According to a recent OSU distracted driving study, two seconds of distraction is all it takes to increase your accident risk by 24 times! And who looks at their cell phone or navigation screen for only two seconds? In another recent study performed by Zendrive, the driving habits of 3-million anonymous drivers were analyzed only to discover that drivers use their cell phones during 88% of their trips. The average phone was used for 3.5 minutes. Obviously, most people believe they are not going to cause a distracted driving accident, and yet losing control of your vehicle and drifting into oncoming traffic appears to be the most frequent serious motor vehicle accident. For more information on how distracted driving is impacting Oregonians visit Distracted Driving Accidents Take a Toll on Oregonians.

In another example, a Banks, Oregon 28-year-old driver died after losing control of a minivan, on a snow-covered road, and crashed head-on into a truck containing a family of 5. This serious motor vehicle accident scenario has played out many times over the past months, with drivers who misjudge their ability to maintain vehicle control on winter roads where excessive speed is exceptionally dangerous. You can cite many other examples where drivers lost control, hit a tree or spun out into an embankment and rolled over. All resulting in the death of the driver. If you still can’t imagine how devastating a head-on collision can be then you need to view a 60-mph head-on crash test performed by Fifth Gear.

In numerous other crash cases the same behaviors may cause the accident, but not wearing your seat belt compounds the severity of the injuries, especially at highway speeds. Every high school physics student learns that the force exerted on a body during a crash is a function of your speed – or to be more accurate your speed squared (speed2). This means the force exerted on a body at 60 mph is 9 times the force at 20 mph. This is why you need the latest designs in seat belts, curtain airbags, and impact absorbent designs to survive a crash at highway speeds. For more information about the benefits of using seat belts visit our blog How to Reduce Major Injury Risk By 50% In A Motor Vehicle Crash.

2) Failure to Obey Traffic Laws

Failing to obey basic traffic laws such as yielding the right-of-way, failure to stop, and illegal turns can turn a minor infraction into a serious motor vehicle accident, as was the case for almost half of Oregon fatalities during the first three months of 2017. An example of a typical accident case includes a 55-year-old, Coos Bay driver who attempted to cross a major highway and was struck broadside by a truck traveling at highway speeds. The driver failed to judge the speed of the approaching truck and rather than wait an additional 10-seconds, tried to beat the truck across the intersection.

In another example, a Portland cyclist was killed while riding in a bike lane, after being struck by a truck driver attempting to make a right-hand turn without yielding to the cyclist. This type of accident is so common in Oregon that it even has its own classification – Right Hook.

In still another example, in the first Oregon driving fatality of 2017, a Malin, Oregon driver failed to stop at a stop sign, drove across a highway and straight into an irrigation ditch, flipping his vehicle. He may have survived the crash had he been wearing his seat belt.

3) Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications is one of the most dangerous things you can do. Driving requires you to be alert, without impaired vision, judgment, or reaction time. If you are impaired, DO NOT DRIVE! Tragically, this was not the conclusion that 10 Oregon drivers made during the first few months of 2017 when their actions caused more than 20+ fatalities and serious injuries. For example, a 26-year-old Madras driver lost her life when she combined two deadly accident behaviors – alcohol and excessive speed. While driving too fast she lost control of her vehicle, veered off the road, and crashed. In another serious motor vehicle accident, a Grants Pass driver was arrested on suspicion of DUII after rear-ending another vehicle and causing the vehicle to flip and crash into the guard rail. The innocent victim was trapped in his vehicle and required emergency crews to remove him, but subsequently died from his injuries.

As further indication that our DUII laws are not strict enough, a Beaverton man and his two-year-old son were killed by a 24-year-old drunk driver, when his vehicle drifted into oncoming traffic and caused a four-vehicle chain reaction crash. In this case, as in many drunk driving accidents, the drunk driver survived the accident and killed the innocent occupants in the other vehicle. This result occurred in half of the fatal accidents involving a drunk driver.

4) I have no idea what they were doing

Some accidents defy explanation. These accidents usually are the result of driver confusion or disorientation almost as if they forgot they were driving. For example, a Cottage Grove, Oregon driver was traveling southbound on I5, and for some unknown reason, came to a complete stop in one of the lanes of the freeway. A Freightliner truck rear-ended the stopped driver with predictable results. Stopping on an active interstate highway was most likely an act of confusion, especially at night or in bad weather. Always pull off the highway and as far onto the shoulder as possible to avoid being rear-ended by another vehicle traveling at freeway speed.

In another example, a pedestrian was struck and killed by a Beaverton driver while walking on Highway 26. The pedestrian apparently became disoriented and walked into the driver’s vehicle. In March, the same scenario repeated on Interstate 5 as a pedestrian was standing in the middle of the freeway and was struck by an 18-wheeler tractor trailer.

Changing Driving Behaviors

Every day we learn about another family affected by a serious accident. Other than feeling sympathy, do we ever really make a conscious effort to understand what caused the accident and change our driving behaviors? You’d be more inclined to make that effort if the motor vehicle accident affected someone you know or “knocks on your door.” As a personal injury lawyer who represents many families each year, I see the causes and driving behaviors that lead to serious motor vehicle accidents. Do we all agree that it is better to change our driving behaviors before we are involved in an accident rather than trying to find a cure after one? Of course, this is the right approach.

Getting results for victims of a serious motor vehicle accident

Meet Attorney Travis Mayor

Hopefully, your family will never be involved in a serious motor vehicle accident, but if you are, Mayor Law is one of the best law firms in Oregon that can help you achieve a legal settlement and compensation commensurate with the severity of your injuries. If you have been the victim of a serious motor vehicle accident then you need legal representation that has the knowledge, experience, and resources to win your case.

At Mayor Law, it is our goal to help the victims of serious motor vehicle accidents achieve legal justice and recover the financial resources needed to help restore their lives. Portland car accident attorney Travis Mayor will build your case to maximize financial compensation, while removing the confusion and hassle of dealing with insurance companies and their legal tactics.  Travis Mayor has recovered millions of dollars for his serious motor vehicle accident clients.  For every client, Travis offers personal service with proven results.  Please review our clients’ personal accounts of working with attorney Travis Mayor:  Google+, Yelp, and AVVO pages.