Car accidents are all too frequent in the U.S., causing 32,000 fatalities and an astounding 2 million injuries every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Why are there so many, despite all the pushes toward enhanced safety over the past several decades? After all, seat belts, air bags, and computerized navigation should be mitigating the problem, right?
Enhanced vehicle safety is real. But many car accidents aren’t due to vehicle design. They are caused by human error, traffic patterns, weather, and even what insurance companies term “acts of God” – events that couldn’t be foreseen by drivers, and so couldn’t be avoided. Let’s look at 3 types of common car accidents.
Nearly 30% of injuries stem from one of the most common types of driver error: rear-end accidents. Rear-end accidents generally occur because of two issues. The driver in the back may be traveling too fast to stop – remember, drivers should drive with sufficient distance to be able to stop in time if the vehicle in front of them stops. A related issue? The driver may also be too distracted to stop. In most rear-end accidents, the driver in the back is considered responsible, simply because of the “sufficient distance to be able to stop” rule we all learned when we got our learner’s permit.
Is it possible that the driver in front stopped suddenly? Yes. But that doesn’t make them liable, because the driver in back should have been driving defensively.
T-bone accidents – so called because one vehicle bisects another in the side, similar to the look of a T-bone steak – is another common car accident. While rear-end collisions may damage a car, they are less dangerous than the side impact of a T-bone, which can come much closer to where folks are sitting in the car.
It’s no surprise, then, that T-bones are responsible for more than one-quarter of fatal accidents in the U.S.
T-bones are frequently caused by drivers running a red light or a stop sign, or failing to yield right of way at an unposted intersection.
Motorcycles Hitting a Car
If you’re friends with any motorcyclists, you may know that a car hitting a motorcyclist can do major damage to the motorcyclist on board. Despite widespread helmet laws, motorcyclists are much less protected than motorists in cars, who have seat belts, air bags, and tons of metal between them and the outside.
It’s much less well known, however, that motorcycles hitting a car can be highly injurious to the occupants of a car. Potholes or even pebbles can cause motorcycles to spin into other lanes or even go airborne for a few seconds. Where do they land? All too frequently, on cars.
While liability is fairly easy to assess in the other two common types of accidents, the issue of who is liable isn’t so clear-cut in this one. Motorcyclists are responsible for being attentive to the road, including scanning for potholes. But potholes can be hard to see. Pebbles can be unpredictable, and may be considered acts of God. Also, governments and other entities responsible for maintaining the roadways in good condition may bear some responsibility for deep and dangerous potholes as well.