When cars go off the road in winter, people often point to ice and snow as the culprits. It’s true that bad weather can contribute to vehicles veering or sliding off the road; sometimes an accident can’t be avoided. However, in many cases poor driver performance is a major factor in the accident – in all seasons and in all kinds of weather. It’s important to look at the risks, including irresponsible driver behaviors, that lead to these crashes.
According to a 2011 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, most run-off-road (ROR) collisions involve only one vehicle; furthermore, driver-related issues contribute to many single-vehicle ROR crashes.
These accidents can easily result in fatalities and serious injuries, especially when trees, steep embankments, and other obstacles are close to the road. Driver behaviors that contribute to ROR accidents include:
Speeding – Excessive speed in and of itself can cause drivers to lose control of the vehicles; however, speed also combines with other unfavorable circumstances, such as curving, icy, or unfamiliar roads, to lead to a crash.
Fatigue – Sleepy drivers are a hazard to themselves, their passengers, and anyone else on or near the road. For instance, the NHTSA report estimates that about a third of ROR accidents involving large trucks stem from driver fatigue.
Intoxication – It’s clear how this could cause drivers to veer off the road. Intoxicated drivers misjudge road boundaries, make poor judgments, and can’t capably steer their vehicles.
Distraction – Texting, cellphone use, and other sources of inattention and distraction can lead to these crashes. Some evidence suggests that ROR crashes are a little more common when the driver is transporting passengers than when driving alone, possibly because passengers have the potential to be distracting.
Transportation officials at different levels of government attempt to reduce the rate of these kinds of crashes, or minimize the severity of their outcomes, by studying driver behavior and introducing changes to roads that help drivers along; these include clearer signage (including those warning of curves), clearer demarcations of road boundaries, and, when possible, the provision of extra space along the road for drivers to correct themselves and maneuver safely back into traffic.
Although these measures help, drivers need to take responsibility for what they themselves can control. If you’re involved in this kind of car accident, don’t hesitate to contact reputable Indianapolis accident lawyers. But do your best to avoid such an accident to begin with. Even if you’re in a rush, don’t speed and don’t drive while you’re exhausted; the potential costs of an ROR collision can’t be emphasized strongly enough.