Negligent drivers are more prone to causing serious car accidents that can leave innocent victims with life-changing injuries from the collision.
Although the list of all potential causes of car accidents in Washington state might be infinite, there are some more common causes of auto accidents that drivers should be aware of and prepare for.
13 Common Causes Of Crashes In Washington
Regardless of if your accident occurred on a city street, rural highway, or one of the many congested interstates in Washington, your accident may have been caused by one of the following factors:
- Distracted Drivers. Using a cell phone behind the wheel is one of the most commonly-cited factors in distracted driving accidents. A vehicle will travel approximately the length of a football field in five seconds at 55 miles per hour, and a lot can happen in that brief amount of time. Eating, drinking, listening to music, conversing with passengers, and daydreaming are other common examples.
- Drunk Drivers. Washington state law sets a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of .08 percent for adult drivers over the age of 21. In commercial vehicles, such as semi-trucks, the BAC limit is even lower at .02 percent. Alcohol-impaired drivers cause thousands of serious injury and fatal accidents each year.
- Drug-Impaired Drivers. Since Washington state legalized marijuana in 2014, a lot of attention has been paid to legalization as a potential threat to public safety. While it will likely take several years to determine the impact legal marijuana has on accident rates as a whole, it goes without saying that driver impairment in general increases the risk of serious and fatal accidents in Washington state.
- Speeding. Driving at high speeds increases the risk of serious injury and death to both the driver who is speeding and other motorists on the roadway, as well as pedestrians, bicyclists, and the public in general. Vehicles are more difficult to stop and control at higher speeds, and the damage and injuries that can occur from a crash are compounded when a car is speeding.
- Dangerous Roadways. Poorly-designed roadways that confuse motorists or complicate the decision-making process for drivers can contribute to accidents, and government agencies can be held liable for damages that result from such a collision. Failing traffic signals, blind spots and corners lacking visibility are examples of roadway design issues that can lead to a government agency being held liable for a serious crash.
- Drowsy Drivers. Driver fatigue is a national epidemic, as private motorists and commercial vehicle drivers alike have been found to push the limits when it comes to exhaustion behind the wheel. Fatigue can impair a driver’s skills in a similar manner to drugs or alcohol, which greatly increases the chances of a major accident.
- Snow, Ice, Or Black Ice. Winter weather is a major contributing factor to car accidents in Seattle and throughout Washington state, and motorists regularly underestimate the effect that snow and ice can have on their own driving abilities.
- Police Pursuits. While police are tasked with doing what they can to take criminal suspects into custody, state law dictates that they must not jeopardize the safety of the general public in doing so. Accident victims who are injured in a collision with a police officer in these situations may potentially pursue a personal injury claim for their damages, including medical bills and lost wages.
- Teen Drivers. Young, inexperienced drivers are statistically much more prone to causing a collision. Although not all accidents involving teen drivers are the fault of the teen, a lack of experience and driving education can play a role in contributing to a serious collision.
- Traveling Too Fast For Conditions. Drivers are expected to drive at a reasonable and prudent speed depending upon the traffic and weather conditions at the time. Following the posted speed limit does not mean you are not traveling too fast for conditions.
- Elderly Drivers. Again, not all accidents involving older drivers are the fault of the elderly driver. However, data shows that as we age, our driving skills and abilities to react quickly behind the wheel diminish which can increase the chances of a driving mistake.
- Driver Aggression. Aggressive drivers often display a disregard for the safety of other motorists. This might include rapid lane-changes, weaving in and out of traffic, following too closely, going against the right-of-way, and a disregard for traffic signals.
- Roadway Debris. Towing vehicles and trucks carrying debris are legally required to ensure their loads are secured and do not pose a risk to other motorists or the general public. If a vehicle loses its load and the debris enters the roadway, it jeopardizes the safety of other drivers and can contribute to a serious collision. Drivers who are negligent in securing their loads can be held legally responsible for damages that result from that negligence.
The bottom line is that there are a number of different potential contributing factors to serious car accidents, and negligent drivers who injure innocent people should be held responsible for their actions.
Why The Cause Of Your Crash Is Important
If you wish to pursue a personal injury claim for your car accident, proving that the other driver was at-fault is key to a successful resolution to your case. Deconstructing any and all contributing factors to the collision is an important part of this process.
The more information you can gather at the scene of a collision, the more likely your case will be adequately prepared and that crucial evidence will be preserved. After a collision, accident victims should:
- Take as many photographs and/or videos of the scene and all vehicles involved, including injuries if applicable;
- Collect identifying and contact information of all parties involved in the collision, including eyewitnesses and bystanders;
- Calling 9-1-1 to report the accident and request that police offers respond to conduct an investigation and complete a police traffic collision report (PTCR).
It is not always realistic or even possible for accident victims to conduct a thorough investigation at the scene of their own accident, especially if they have been badly injured and are being transported to a hospital. You can read more about how to avoid the many common mistakes in car accident cases in our free book about car accidents, “The Ten Biggest Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Washington Accident Case,” authored by attorney Chris Davis of Davis Law Group.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer with experience handling serious auto accident cases is another way that accident victims can protect their legal rights and ensure important evidence is documented and preserved. The attorneys at Davis Law Group have decades of experience investigating serious accident cases and can help you better understand your legal rights. Call our office in Seattle at (206) 727-4000 or use the confidential contact form on this page to request a free case review and legal consultation.
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