Improved economy leads to higher driver death rate

Drivers in Colorado and across the U.S. have a slightly increased chance of dying in a car crash involving late-model vehicles, according to a report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. A main reason for the increase is the improving economy.

Using crash data from 2012 through 2015, IIHS calculated the overall driver death rates for 2014 models to be 30 deaths per 1 million registered vehicle years. The organization found that the vehicle with the worst driver fatality rate was the Hyundai Accent, with a rate of 104 fatalities per 1 million registered vehicle years. On the other end of the scale, 11 car and truck models had zero fatalities per 1 million registered model years.

In 2011, IIHS researchers found that driver death rates had dropped by over 33 percent over the previous three years. The decline was attributed to improving vehicle safety standards. However, researchers have linked the increase for 2014 models to the improving economy. This is because people are more likely to go out to eat and go on vacation when they have more disposable income. Researchers also found that people are more likely to speed during robust economies.

Victims of automobile accidents often suffer catastrophic injuries that require weeks or months of expensive medical care. In some cases, they are left permanently disabled. In the event that it can be determined that the accident was caused by the negligence of another driver, such as one who was impaired by alcohol, distracted by a cellphone or speeding, an attorney could possibly help an injured victim seek appropriate compensation for the losses that have been sustained.

Source: IIHS, “Higher driver death rate is a downside of economic recovery“, May 25, 2017

3 vehicles given top safety rating by IIHS

Colorado residents looking to purchase a new vehicle may be interested in one of three cars that were given the highest rating for crashworthiness by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. These vehicles were the Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan, the Lincoln Continental and the Toyota Avalon. Three other vehicles that were tested, including the Tesla Model S, did not qualify to receive this safety rating.

The Tesla Model S and the other two vehicles, the Chevy Impala and the Ford Taurus, all failed the small overlap front test. This particular test, which was introduced in 2012, tests the structural integrity of the vehicle’s safety cage. It analyzes this through a controlled impact to the driver-side corner, simulating a collision with, for example, a telephone pole.

The crash results for the Tesla Model S were particularly surprising as CEO Elon Musk has been to tout the safety of the vehicle. According to the IIHS, the Tesla’s seat belt is not strong enough. Further, the impact caused the dummy’s head to move too far forward, meaning it hit the steering wheel during the collision. It was not noted if the Model S passed the other four tests designed to determine the safety of the vehicle.

If a car accident results in passenger injuries, those who were affected may have the ability to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who was determined to be liable. If an auto defect caused the injuries to be more severe than they would have been otherwise, those who were injured may also have the ability to seek compensation from the vehicle manufacturer. A personal injury attorney may assist with determining who could held liable based on the circumstances surrounding the crash and how much in compensation the injured victim may be entitled to.

Reasons to be wary of buzzed driving

Before becoming completely intoxicated, most people have a feeling known as being “buzzed.” This is when a person can slightly feel the sensation of alcohol but is still mostly in charge of his or her motor functions.

In an effort to lower the number of DUI arrests that take place every year in Colorado, it is vital to inform the public of what truly constitutes drunk driving. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, over 26,000 drivers are arrested every year for driving under the influence. Many assume they are fine to drive if they are only buzzed, but that can be misleading.

Colorado has stricter laws
In Colorado, motorists can be charged if they are caught driving with a blood alcohol content percentage of 0.05. This qualifies as a DWAI, which stands for “driving while ability impaired.” A BAC of 0.08 still constitutes as a DUI. However, this all means that driving with a BAC of 0.05 could still land a person in jail.

It does not take much to reach 0.05

For some people, it may only take one drink to hit 0.05. First, it is important to understand what exactly is considered to be one drink. Most standards hold that one drink equals 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor, which for these purposes is anything that is 80 proof.

For a woman who weighs 100 pounds, one drink can result in a BAC of 0.05 right off the bat. Men have a slightly different scale since their bodies tend to process alcohol differently. For example, a 100-pound man who had one drink would get a BAC of 0.04. Those interested can consult with the graphs provided by Business Insider.

Another component is how often drinks were consumed. A person who had two drinks in 60 minutes as opposed to one alcoholic beverage would have an even greater BAC. Therefore, even if a person is only feeling buzzed, it is still advisable to not get behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Most common types of distracted driving

When it comes to automobile accidents, most people assume that drunk or inexperienced drivers cause the most incidents. However, many of these car accident injuries are a result of distracted driving. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that approximately 391,000 people suffered injuries in 2015 as a result of distracted driving.

No matter how skilled people think they are at driving, getting distracted even for a second can be dangerous. Here are the most common types of distractions that result in vehicle collisions in Colorado.

Lost in thought

Sometimes there is no tangible explanation for why a driver ends up in an accident. People occasionally daydream or get lost in thought. While it happens to everyone, it is vital to remain focused on the road when behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Using a cell phone

It is illegal in the state of Colorado to use a cell phone while driving. Current legislation is under consideration that could result in much stiffer penalties for drivers caught texting while driving. The only exceptions for using a phone while driving include:

  • Reporting a reckless driver
  • Reporting a road hazard
  • Reporting a fire
  • Reporting a traffic accident

These laws came into effect after several fatalities occurred in the state. They are mainly for young people who may be more inclined to use smartphones while driving, but everyone needs to abide by the law.

Outside Occurrences
It is not uncommon to be driving along and find something eye-catching. Perhaps there is an accident on the side of the road or another driver is doing something strange. Regardless, focusing on something else other than what is directly in front of the driver is dangerous. Drivers should not be engaging in rubbernecking.

There are plenty of other things that can cause a driver to become distracted, such as eating something or adjusting climate controls. However, everyone should be as safe as can be to avoid auto accidents.