According to research conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), crashes involving stopped or disabled vehicles have been responsible for hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries over the past several years. Today, on average, 300 people are killed each year as a result of stopped-vehicle accidents. This statistic is particularly alarming in light of the fact that there has been an over 25% increase in stopped-vehicle accident-related deaths since 2014.
Between 2016 and 2018, vehicle wrecks involving an immobilized automobile resulted in the following statistics:
- 566 people were killed.
- 14,371 injuries occurred.
- $8.8 billion in societal cost was incurred (including medical expenses and lost wages).
- 95% of crashes involved a moving vehicle striking a stationary one.
- Over 50% of deaths resulted when a passing vehicle struck a person near the immobile car.
Auto collisions of all types are traumatic, and in the case of stopped-vehicle accidents, it can be especially shocking to be involved in a crash when you are least expecting to. Research on the topic is sorely deficient; the most recent Federal Highway Administration report on stopped-vehicle accidents was written in 2010. Therefore, many people may not be aware of the threat of an accident involving roadside vehicles and pedestrians. To understand how you can stay safe in these hazardous situations, it is beneficial to know what factors are likely to cause this type of crash and how they can be countered.
Ways to Promote Safety
Whether you are driving past a stopped vehicle or find yourself in a situation in which you need to move your car to the side of the road, it is important to be aware of potential accident causes, and ways to mitigate those dangers. The following information can help you, other drivers, and those on the side of the road stay out of harm’s way:
- Increase Visibility. Visibility is likely a factor in the majority of stopped-vehicle accidents. These crashes often occur because an immobilized vehicle did not stand out enough to alert drivers of its vulnerable position. Using hazard lights, flares, headlights, cones, flags, or other signals can make a big difference in increasing conspicuousness. If your car is on the side of the road, try to do whatever you can to make sure your car can be easily seen by approaching drivers. If you are a driver, using fully-functioning headlights can increase your chances of seeing a stopped vehicle with enough time to react.
- Move Over. In all 50 states, “move over” laws currently require that autos give way to ambulances and other emergency vehicles. However, because first responders continue to be killed by passing vehicles in many cases, the U.S. Government Accountability Office announced in 2019 that steps are being taken to make these “move over” laws more effective. Regardless of current legislation, giving a wide berth to vehicles on the side of the road is an effective way to keep everyone involved safer.
- Practice Good Vehicle Maintenance. As mentioned, poor visibility is one of the top causes of stopped-vehicle accidents. Through vigilant car maintenance, you can help avert crashes. Good vehicle maintenance can prevent a broken headlight from decreasing visibility, and can further decrease the likelihood that your car will break down in the first place.
- Slow Down. Speed is a factor in a high percentage of vehicular crashes, and stopped-vehicle accidents are no exception. When you drive at high speeds, you give yourself less time to react to situations that you may encounter on the side of the road. Cars speeding past creates a hazardous situation for those who may be tending an incapacitated vehicle on the roadside.
- Give Other Drivers Notice. We have already discussed ways to notify drivers of your stopped vehicle, but, as a driver, you can also do your part to help protect an immobile car. Whenever possible, giving drivers around you notice by visibly moving over, slowing down, and flashing your lights can help make others aware of potential danger as they are approaching the stopped vehicle.
- Do Not Drive Impaired. While this may be common sense which applies to all vehicle operation, being impaired can cause a stopped-vehicle situation to turn deadly. This can include drug or alcohol impairment, but also stress or anxiety, physical or mental distraction, or injury or illness. It is equally dangerous to be impaired if you are stopped on the side of the road, as you may be more likely to unintentionally walk into the path of an oncoming vehicle.
- Be Aware of New Technology. Researchers are currently looking for ways to increase road safety through various forms of technology. One promising device allows for vehicle-to-vehicle communication, enabling vehicles to wirelessly exchange information such as speed, location, and driving direction. By staying at the forefront of emerging technologies, drivers can do their part to keep their vehicles safe for all travelers on the road.
Stopped-vehicle accidents are almost always preventable. When they occur, the effects can be devastating. If you or a loved one has been involved in a stopped-vehicle crash, you can benefit from the legal guidance of a member of our team. We at Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC are ready to stand by your side. We have experience defending our clients against insurance companies who may push for early settlement. Contact us today to let us represent you.