As people settle into the new year, they often reflect on the successes and failures of the past and plan for a better future. That includes setting goals and taking steps to achieve them. A particularly worthwhile goal is to improve the level of safety in our lives so that we can protect ourselves and those around us.
One of the best ways to improve safety is to drive safely and with great awareness of those around us. While you may already be an excellent driver, many are not. Moreover, almost everyone can improve. One way to better protect ourselves while on the roadway is to better understand the risk factors that lead to accidents and those that increase the likelihood of injuries from motor vehicle accidents. We will discuss both in this blog post.
What is a “Risk Factor?”
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a “risk factor” is “something that increases risk or susceptibility.” Thus, when we identify the risk factors that can lead to injuries in this blog post, we are discussing actions or situations that increase the chances of receiving or exacerbating an injury in a car wreck.
Worldwide Traffic Statistics
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 1,190,000 people die every year in traffic accidents. Just as shocking, between an additional 20 million people and 50 million people suffer injuries. Many of these injuries result in disabilities. WHO provides a list of top risk factors, some of which we will discuss below. Many of these factors are not surprising.
Top Risk Factors
The following are the top risk factors listed by WHO:
- Speeding – You may have heard the saying that “speed kills,” and it is true. Higher speeds increase the likelihood of having an accident and the severity of resulting injuries. WHO states that a one percent increase in speed increases fatal crash risk by four percent. Slowing down is safer for both people in cars and for pedestrians.
- Driving Under the Influence – Most people acknowledge the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. This is reflected in the massive public relations campaigns supported by MADD and other organizations, along with tougher laws that have been enacted through the years.
- Failure to Use Seatbelts, Child Restraints, and Motorcycle Helmets – WHO cites some sobering (but hopeful) statistics on these issues. Infant deaths in car crashes can be reduced by a whopping 71 percent by the proper use of child restraints. Brain injury risk for motorcycle riders can be reduced 74 percent by the proper use of a helmet.
- Distracted Driving – Obviously, when we are distracted, we are not giving our full attention to driving. There are lots of distractions, from food and radios to crying babies. But the prime distraction cited by WHO is the use of mobile phones.
- Unsafe Roads – Poor road designs and poor maintenance clearly can lead to accidents.
- Unsafe Motor Vehicles – Certain safety features in vehicles go a long way in keeping us safe. This may be a somewhat greater concern in parts of the world with which WHO deals that are less developed than the United States.
- Inadequate Law Enforcement – No one likes getting a ticket. However, enforcing the rules of the road helps to keep us all on our toes. Failure to enforce laws usually leads to a lower level of compliance.
- Inadequate Care after an Accident – Receiving prompt care after an accident is crucial. Delays in care can lead to adverse results.
Above, we focused on the risk factors set out by the World Health Organization, but there certainly are others listed by a variety of organizations. For example, the age of a driver, a driver’s level of experience, and the location of the accident are a few other risk factors that can come into play.
Call with Questions
Understanding the top risk factors for injuries and accidents can help us understand what we can do to stay safe. Unfortunately, there will still be people that do not exercise reasonable care and cause accidents with their negligence. If such a driver has injured you, you will likely have questions about your rights.
The personal injury attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield will be happy to answer all of your questions in a free consultation. Contact us today.