HOME » What are Common Causes of Car Accidents in Southern Illinois?
What are Common Causes of Car Accidents in Southern Illinois?
Although driving can be dangerous because many motorists are traveling quickly on packed roads, there are several specific causes of car accidents that drivers should attempt to avoid. Drivers cannot prevent every accident, but they can take steps to protect themselves and their passengers. Safe driving is a choice, and a few alterations to a driver’s habits will create a much safer environment.
The causes of car accidents listed below can help drivers determine if there are any bad habits worth eliminating. Drivers often forget that they are making poor decisions because they have been driving for years with little to no trouble. Unfortunately, even one mistake can cause a serious accident and personal injury.
In the rural sections of Southern Illinois outside St. Louis, driving becomes even more difficult because motorists do not have the aids and references for which they are accustomed in the city or suburbs. Additionally, rural roads feature people, vehicles, and free-flowing traffic that is difficult to gauge. Drivers should reach out to an Illinois car accident lawyer for assistance after an accident. Negligence and misconduct often cause these accidents, and a lawyer is prepared to seek compensation.
What is Distracted Driving?
The State of Illinois and the Illinois State Police publish a pamphlet describing best practices to avoid distracted driving and a few statistics on the matter. For example, drivers are four times more likely to be involved in a crash while using a mobile device. If the driver engages in texting while driving, they are 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident.
Illinois law allows the use of a cell phone while driving only if a Bluetooth system, headset, or headphones are in use. The state, however, allows for cell phone use in the following situations:
- Reporting emergencies
- Calling for help while on the shoulder
- While stopped in traffic
- When the vehicle is in park or neutral
If drivers are performing normal tasks in the car, they should ask themselves if these tasks are distracting. Activities such as changing the radio, adjusting the climate controls, brushing hair, clipping nails, or reaching for objects can be very distracting. Even more distracting, however, are arguments, squabbles among small children, or adjusting glasses/contact lenses.
Drivers should also keep in mind that their distractions vary depending on the activity. Manual distractions force drivers to take their hands off the wheel. Cognitive distractions pull one’s focus off the road, and visual distractions take the driver’s eyes off the cars, signs, and markings in front of them.
How can I Avoid Drunk Driving?
Drunk/impaired driving is a statewide issue in Illinois. In 2017 alone, there were 27,046 DUI arrests. Unfortunately, the average blood alcohol content of those drivers is 0.16 percent, coming to twice the legal limit.
About 86 percent of all driving under the influence (DUI) arrests in the state involve first offenders; reaching out to potential offenders is the best way to avoid accidents. Groups that go out or party should have a designated driver. Taxis or ride-sharing services can be used instead of driving, or one can stay at a friend’s home to avoid drunk driving.
Everyone’s alcohol tolerance is different, but no one should assume that they can safely drive a vehicle while drunk or buzzed. After the first drink, that person should not be allowed behind the wheel. The person should hand over the keys to someone who is remaining sober. If someone goes out with friends who intend to drink, the person not drinking can drive the others.
Is Drugged Driving a Problem in Illinois?
Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that marijuana is the substance most commonly found in drivers, aside from alcohol, after a car accident. THC, the psychoactive substance found in marijuana, can reduce reaction times, induce drowsiness, cause confusion, impair depth perception, or cloud a driver’s judgment. Teens and young adults feel the brunt of this problem, as car accidents are the number one cause of death among teenagers aged 16 to 19.
Prescription medication may present an even larger problem. According to research from AAA, only 28 percent of respondents believe that driving under the influence of prescription medication is unsafe. Although young people are affected by illicit drug use, prescription medication use only rises with age, introducing more age brackets that are at risk of drugged driving.
Even the most innocuous medications, such as antihistamines, can increase the risk of a car accident by over 40 percent, reducing the driver’s ability to maintain speed and stopping distance. Additionally, medications such as benzodiazepines and opiates are showing up in car accidents more and more.
Is Speeding Dangerous?
A common statistic regarding speeding is that around 26 percent of traffic deaths involve speeding. The National Safety Council reports that almost 8500 car accidents each year are the result of speed, and even though speeding deaths are dropping, the number of fatalities is still quite high.
Rural car accident deaths occur twice as often, based on miles driven, than those in urban areas. Although cars and minivans are involved in thousands of traffic deaths every year, on rural roads, pickups, SUVs, and large trucks crash far more frequently in rural areas.
The number of arterial roads tends to drop in rural towns, and that increases traffic on quiet surface streets. As a result, rural roads are filled with speeding drivers unable to find an outlet to an arterial road or highway. Therefore, the number of speeding deaths over 55 miles per hour in rural areas is significantly higher.
Are Rain and Wind Dangerous for Driving?
Based on research from the United States Department of Transportation, around 70 percent of weather-related vehicle accidents occur on wet pavement. Rain and wind most often contribute to these conditions, and thawing snow, sleet, and ice also make road surfaces very slick.
Drivers often believe they can handle rainy conditions because that is simply a part of living in the United States. Rainy conditions, however, can lower visibility and contribute to standing water, hydroplaning, and reduced pavement temperature.
With heavy rain comes heavy winds. Wind gusts in the area often blow unobstructed because of the flat terrain and lack of large buildings. Interestingly, a dormitory at Illinois State University is the tallest building between St. Louis and Chicago. With short buildings and plains as far as the eye can see, rain, ice, and snow pass through the area quickly.
Tall vehicles such as large trucks, SUVs, box trucks, car carriers, and dump trucks should slow down to account for windy conditions. Small vehicles should also slow down and avoid other cars, as wind can push a small vehicle across the road. Drivers would also do well to check the wind forecast at St. Louis Downtown Airport or MidAmerica St. Louis Airport before driving.
Should I Drive in Ice or Snow?
Ice and snow blanket Southern Illinois every year, and the population often takes a relaxed stance on this type of weather. People in the area have dealt with wintry conditions for such a long time that they assume roads will be plowed, snow tires will keep them safe, or that their learned abilities can prevent accidents.
According to research from The Zebra, around 17 percent of car accidents occur when it is snowing or icy. Around 1800 people die every year in these conditions, and well over 150,000 accidents occur. Although 70 percent of all roads in the United States are in locations that receive annual snowfall, every road in Illinois will see snowfall or ice at some point.
Most cars do not handle icy conditions well because their tires are too small, or their traction control systems cannot account for slippage. Black ice is nearly impossible to see, and drivers who cannot anticipate a skid are likely to slide off the road or cause an accident.
Studies show that about half of all drivers are not prepared for wintry conditions. In a practical sense, half of the vehicles on an icy road are not ready for those conditions. Additionally, Illinois saw the 13th most winter accident fatalities in 2020 with 15.
Drivers should limit themselves to all but essential travel during snowy or icy conditions. Even if the road is wet or slushy, there is still quite a lot of potential for skidding. Drivers should also be aware that snow and heavy fog can reduce visibility to zero in a matter of moments.
Is Night Driving Difficult?
Reduced visibility is a serious issue for every driver. Even someone who claims they can drive at night without issue is experiencing reduced visibility. Drivers must use their headlights at all times and turn on their high beams if they truly cannot see. As a show of courtesy, high beams should be turned off when other vehicles are approaching.
Rural areas make these conditions that much more difficult to manage because the roads may be unlit for miles at a time. If drivers feel drowsy or simply cannot see the road, they should use their hazard lights and pull over until visibility improves.
How Do I Avoid Reckless Driving or Road Rage?
Studies show that about 23 percent of rear-end crashes occur because of tailgating. Furthermore, around 2000 deaths and 950,000 injuries result from tailgating in a range of situations.
Although some drivers are not ready to admit they tailgate, nearly three-fourths of motorists in a recent survey say they were tailgated in the six months prior to the survey. Tailgating does not help drivers arrive at their final destinations faster, but the practice can cause road rage situations. Road rage involves intense emotions that may lead to physical violence.
Drivers should try their best to calm down, breathe deeply, and relax if something objectionable occurs on the road. Tailgating or attempting to follow another driver makes the situation that much more dangerous for everyone involved.
Reckless driving may occur from a road rage situation or simply because drivers are not aware of their surroundings. Someone who misses their turn, does not see their exit, or forgets a protected turn lane should not make an emergency maneuver. In most cases, drivers can reach the next exit, intersection, or turn where they can correct their mistake.
What is Wrong Way Driving?
Wrong way driving may sound like a rare occurrence that results only from older or confused drivers making improper choices, but anyone can mistakenly drive the wrong way down a road. The Federal Highway Administration notes that between 300 and 400 people die in wrong way crashes every day. With this total representing around one percent of all traffic deaths every year, wrong way driving should be a consideration for every driver.
Confusion causes wrong way driving as motorists cannot see road signs or understand where they are going. For example, wrong way drivers may enter a city with one-way streets without realizing that every other street travels in the opposite direction.
Drivers have been known to blindly follow GPS directions without taking in their surroundings. Drivers may not see road signage because of fog, rain, and snow. Additionally, wrong way accidents occur when drivers are sharing the roadway improperly. When vehicles park on either side of the street, it can be difficult for two-way traffic to pass through safely.
Wrong way driving also causes issues in parking lots, as drivers do not know how to enter and exit safely. Large parking lots leave drivers to their own devices, and it is easy for a driver to turn the wrong way, causing an accident. The same is true in large parking decks with low lighting and/or few markings.
How Do I Avoid Poor Road Conditions?
Illinois ranks 37th in a national survey of road conditions, expenditures, and bridge quality. Neighboring Missouri ranks second, and the marked decline in road quality across Southern Illinois could surprise drivers. With low rankings in urban interstate pavement condition, rural arterial pavement condition, and urbanized congestion, Illinois roads can be crowded and present several issues.
Drivers should slow down as much as possible so that they can see potholes, debris, cracks in the road surface, and other adverse conditions. Hoping to avoid poor road conditions is important for overall driver safety, but swerving or overcorrecting causes dangerous situations. Drivers should do as much as is reasonable to prevent vehicle damage without involving other motorists in a much more serious accident.
Motorists on rural roads may have more space to move around obstacles or road defects, but rural roads present other problems that drivers may not consider. For example, signage on rural roads may not provide a clear picture of how to manage the road. Speed limit signs can be scarce. Drivers who are used to relatively straight roads may suffer severe accidents while encountering adverse road conditions. These drivers can easily cause head-on and T-bone accidents when startled by an obstacle.
Finally, the road’s design may be faulty. If the state or local government built a road that is simply not safe for driving, that entity can be held liable for damages.
How Should I Deal with Vehicle Defects?
Defective vehicles can cause accidents because of brake failures, unintended acceleration, chassis failures, fuel tank leaks, and other defects. If the manufacturer does not issue a recall or otherwise covers up the defects, it is liable for the accident.
Defective tires may cause accidents, but the manufacturer of the tire is responsible, even if those tires were on the vehicle at the time of purchase. Additionally, poor maintenance may cause car accidents when mechanics or service technicians improperly perform basic service or repairs.
How Should I Drive Through Construction Sites?
As motorists pass through construction zones, it is important to take heed to all warning signs and speed limits. Unfortunately, some construction companies or crews do not post the appropriate signage. Drivers must slow down when it is clear that a construction zone is coming up, look out for construction workers who are close to the roadway, and allow other vehicles to merge. Even if lanes do not merge, drivers should slow down as lanes narrow. It is easy to lose control of a speeding vehicle when there are mere inches between cars.
Construction crews use barriers to divide the road surface or protect their workers. The barriers themselves often shift, and drivers should move away from these barriers as much as possible. For example, a construction crew is paving the middle of an interstate. The barrier on the left side of the road separates the crew from the cars. Drivers should change to the right lane to avoid contact with the barrier.
Standing water can become a problem around construction zones because crews use large amounts of water. Without proper drainage, motorists are splashing through massive puddles, and they could hydroplane or lose control of their vehicles. A large splash from another vehicle can coat the windshield and cause an accident. Even the loud noise the water makes along with the startling appearance of the water is enough to cause drivers to lose control.
Large construction sites may have low or hanging wires over the roadway. Although drivers cannot control where these wires go, they can try to avoid them as much as possible.
Can I Receive Compensation for My Injuries?
Although the causes of car accidents listed above can result in situations from benign to severe, compensation is available to anyone who is hurt or loses a loved one. The compensation available to accident victims includes the following:
Medical costs. Medical costs are simple to calculate, but a doctor or medical expert may need to come forward to explain the treatment required for the victim to recover fully. Medical costs can include medications, medical equipment, transportation to appointments, and/or mental health counseling.
Lost income. Accident victims cannot pay their bills if they are missing work. Lost income calculates the missed days, weeks, or months because of the victim’s emergency care or recovery. Lost income can extend further if the victim is no longer able to earn the income to which they are accustomed.
Emotional distress. Emotional distress, anguish, or turmoil involves the psychological after-effects of an accident. Victims may feel guilty if a loved one died, experience flashbacks, sleep poorly, or develop other mental health conditions.
Pain and suffering. Physical pain experienced by the victim can go beyond their ability to maintain gainful employment. Pain and suffering pays for the lost quality of life because of the victim’s pain, discomfort, or lack of motor skills.
Loss of companionship. Loss of companionship relates to the lost friendships and relationships in the victim’s life.
Punitive damages. Uncapped punitive damages are awarded by the judge or jury during a trial as an additional form of punishment for the defendant. The court must believe that the defendant’s actions are so egregious that punitive damages are warranted.
Should I Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
Hiring a car accident lawyer allows victims to recover from their injuries instead of focusing on legal issues. An experienced lawyer understands how to approach any case, collect evidence, and argue that case in settlement negotiations or before the court. Victims are encouraged to schedule a consultation with a lawyer to learn the merits of the case and understand how much compensation is available.
Once the lawsuit is filed, the victim should allow the lawyer to take phone calls and respond to letters from a host of representatives involved in the case. These entities want to settle as quickly as possible, but a lawyer representing injured victims will fight for compensation that reaches the level of the victim’s pain and suffering.
If necessary, lawyers will file appeals, attend hearings, and assist with other legal matters that may arise. Victims should keep in contact with the family lawyer and ask for updates because each case progresses at a different rate.
Illinois Car Accident Lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC Help Victims Recover from Their Car Accident
If you have been involved in a car accident through no fault of your own, contact the Illinois car accident lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC. We help our clients secure the compensation they deserve and focus on their recovery. We will walk with you every step of the way; from the moment you confide your story until your case is resolved through a settlement or trial. Call us today at 618-277-3644 or contact us online for a free consultation.
Located in Swansea, Illinois, we serve accident victims in St. Louis, Belleville, East St. Louis, Edwardsville, Granite City, Waterloo, Chester, Carbondale, St. Clair County, Madison County, Monroe County, Randolph County, and other regions throughout Southern Illinois.