With Fewer Cars on the Road, Statistics Show a Spike in High-Speed Car Accidents
Since March, travel has been restricted, people quarantined, working and learning from home, we’re seeing far fewer cars on U.S. roadways. In fact, researchers at Brookings University say the country is on its way to driving the lowest number of miles since the 1980s, maybe even the 1970s. This has created new problems.
Those who are on the roads are traveling at dangerously fast speeds due to the lack of congestion. State highway officials are seeing a “severe spike in speeding” during the pandemic, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). The group said emptier streets and highways are causing a “significant surge” in reports of drivers reaching speeds over 100 mph. GHSA also presented findings that show that in Minnesota, motor vehicle crashes and fatalities have more than doubled compared to the same time in previous years. Half of those deaths were related to speeding or careless and negligent driving.
In Missouri, we are seeing the same staggering statistics. According to Missouri Governor Mike Parson, in spite of “traffic volumes in the state dropping by nearly 50% for much of the year, traffic fatalities in Missouri are up 12% compared to 2019.”
The uptick in speeding comes as the nation sees historic declines in traffic. In March, for the first time ever, congestion disappeared from American roadways. But as traffic clears, drivers are speeding up, causing more high-speed car accidents than ever before. According to traffic analysis firm INRIX, drivers in larger cities like Chicago and Los Angeles are reaching speeds nearly 75% higher than pre-pandemic speeds. However, the steep increase in speed is at least somewhat due to high traffic congestion before the pandemic.
The Dangers of Speeding
High-speed car accidents are no joke. High-speed impact crashes often leave victims with debilitating injuries and expensive medical bills. Speeding was a factor in 26% of all traffic deaths in 2018, killing nearly 10,000 people.
A person’s body is engineered to walk and run. Rapid deceleration/acceleration injuries at speeds as low as 20 MPH can themselves cause serious injuries. When pedestrians are hit by drivers going 20 MPH, injuries are similarly severe, but 90% survive. Crashes at higher speeds are much more hazardous. But increase that speed to 40%, and 80% of pedestrians are often killed. In a nutshell, the higher the vehicle’s speed and the higher the mortality rate. Faster speeds mean less time a driver has to stop and avoid a crash.
- Especially during the pandemic, as roads appear nearly empty, drivers look ahead, see nothing, and assume it is safe to step on the gas. But just because you don’t see a hazard does not mean it’s not there.
- At faster speeds, drivers simply won’t see or be able to process potential roadway hazards.
- Speeding reduces the driver’s ability to safely steer the vehicle around curves or objects in the roadway.
- It increases the driver’s risk of losing control of their vehicle.
- It extends the distance needed to brake appropriately.
- The impact of the crash will be much more significant as the speed increases.
- Speeding reduces how effective safety devices are. The vehicle’s safety devices and the devices on the road can only withstand a maximum speed. When you exceed that speed, the safety devices may not work correctly, leaving you vulnerable to injury.
- Speeding endangers the life of the driver, their passenger(s), and all innocent bystanders on the road around them.
How to Prevent High-Speed Accidents
Just because roads are clear, or there is less traffic than usual, it does not mean you can drive recklessly. Even during a global pandemic, you must still follow the speed limit and all traffic laws.
- Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination to not feel rushed.
- Keep your top speed under or right at the speed limit. Make sure to keep a watchful eye on your speedometer.
- Use a speeding app to keep you in check. The Waze app, for example, alerts you when you are driving over the speed limit.
Speeding Causes Car Accident Injuries
Speed and location of the accident, type of vehicle, and seatbelt usage are among the variables that can impact the type and severity of car crash injuries.
Common injuries in high-speed car accidents include:
Whiplash: Whiplash is one of the most common injuries in car accidents. This injury typically happens when a vehicle gets hit from behind. These are acceleration/deceleration collisions that cause the victim’s head to suddenly whip backward then forward, straining the neck. Minor whiplash causes moderate pain that will go away on its own. In more severe cases, the accident may cause damage to the spinal discs.
Traumatic brain injury: The American Association of Neurological Surgeons defines a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a “blow to the head or a penetrating injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain.” The severity of a TBI may range from a minor concussion to a persistent vegetative state. Motor vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of TBIs. A traumatic brain injury may cause headaches, memory loss, sensory issues, and breathing issues, to name a few.
Broken bones: Broken bones are a common injury in motor vehicle accidents. The traumatic force of the body against another object can fracture or crush your bones. Common injuries include clavicle fractures, leg fractures, facial fractures, and rib fractures.
Spinal cord injuries: Spinal cord injuries often cause paralysis. Depending on the location of the injury, a victim may have full or partial paralysis.
Soft tissue damage: Soft tissue damage can include cuts, burns, and other abrasions.
High-Speed Car Accident Damages
The severity of injuries can be directly related to the speed of the vehicles colliding. Generally, cars moving at slower speeds when colliding will cause less severe injuries than those at excessive speeds. The faster a vehicle travels when it crashes, the more property damage the vehicle will sustain. If you can prove that another driver’s negligence caused your injuries, you may be to recover past and future:
- Medical costs
- Loss of earning capacity
- Physical impairment
- Pain and suffering
- Incidental and consequential damages
- Mental anguish
Debilitating injuries, the associated medical bills, and extensive damage to cars or property can become financially crippling. With the help of an experienced car accident attorney, you can increase your chances of getting the compensation you deserve for damages in a car wreck. Contact Kansas City personal injury attorney Donovan Dodrill at (816) 945-4409 today for a free case evaluation.