Normally, when we worry about car accidents, we're thinking about the dangers caused by other drivers. However, our Missouri personal injury attorneys know that single vehicle accidents are common here in Joplin and our state - and these accidents often cause serious injuries and fatalities.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nearly half of fatal crashes involving 16 year-old drivers only involve one vehicle. What's more, single vehicle rollover accidents cause more fatalities than any other kind of accident, because they commonly cause head injuries and/or occupant ejection. Drivers and passengers are equally vulnerable.
Typically, single vehicle accidents are road departure accidents caused by driver error, although this category also includes collisions with roadway debris, and with animals. There are multiple driver behaviors and influences that can cause such accidents, including speed, distraction, and/or intoxication. According to a report from the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, single vehicle crashes can also be caused by certain environmental and roadway factors, such as inclement weather, narrow lanes and shoulders, and sharp curves.
Last Friday, there were 3 separate single vehicle accidents in the Joplin area:
West 32nd Street & Ashwood Drive (Joplin)
Details surrounding this accident remain unclear. According to a press release from the Joplin Police Department, 35 year-old Ryan Parker and 40 year-old David Sage were killed in a single vehicle accident at 2:04 a.m.. Both men were thrown from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. The other occupant of the vehicle, 34 year-old Richard Tibbets, was hospitalized with minor injuries. Police continue to investigate.
Missouri Highway 59 (south of Anderson)
At 8:45 a.m., 71 year-old Virginia E. Jackson was traveling north on Highway 59 when her pickup truck ran off the road. Jackson overcorrected, and struck a bluff. She was taken by helicopter to Freeman Hospital West, but she later died as a result of her injuries.
Missouri Highway 54 (west of Nevada)
At 3:04 p.m., 49 year-old Susan Thornton was injured in a single car accident in Vernon County. Thorton was westbound and lost control of her car due to wet pavement. The vehicle left the roadway and struck a guardrail: Thornton was taken to Nevada Regional Medical Center by ambulance. Her vehicle was totaled.
From this group of accidents that occurred locally within a single day, we can see the potential for damage, serious injuries and fatalities in single vehicle accidents. There's only one way to prevent this kind of crash: drivers must be attentive, alert and proactive. Here are a few defensive driving tips to keep in mind:
• Make safety your top priority. Wear your seatbelt; don't follow too closely; don't drive aggressively or irresponsibly; follow traffic laws. Sound like common sense? We think so, too. But these simple strategies are proven lifesavers.
• Pay attention to what's happening around you. Check your mirrors; watch for pedestrians; keep an eye on situations that might pose a danger to you and your passengers (road construction zones, weather conditions, etc.).
• Expect the unexpected. Don't assume that other drivers are going to obey traffic signals, or move out of your way, or allow you to merge into traffic. Trying to anticipate what other drivers will do is a good way to make sure you're prepared.
• Cut out distractions. At present, cell phones and other electronic devices are the main culprits in distracted driving accidents, but other tasks (eating, putting on makeup, playing with the radio, etc.) can be equally dangerous. Remember, a driver need only be distracted for a fraction of a second to cause a deadly single vehicle accident.
For more information, see these additional resources:
• NHTSA: Factors Related to Fatal Single-Vehicle Run-Off-Road Crashes
• SaveMoLives.com: Missouri's Blueprint to Arrive Alive
• AOL Autos: How to Drive Defensively
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