Rue & Ziffra August Newsletter


2015 Increase in Traffic Accidents

 Traffic Deaths at a 50 Year High in 2015


Information released by the National Safety Council indicates the U.S., in 2015, had the highest one-year percentage increase in traffic deaths in half a century.  Estimates indicate that 38,300 people were killed and roughly 4.4 million sustained injuries that resulted in the need for medical attention.  The number of deaths rose by 8 percent from 2014, compared with a less than 0.5 percent increase between 2013 and 2014 and a 3 percent drop the previous year.

According to the NSC, an improving economy could be the possible cause for the increase.  Factors like lower unemployment and cheaper gas, usually combines with more miles driven.  People don’t drive to work as much or take as many vacations during a recession periods, considering they have less income for anything that is not completely necessary.

According to Deborah Hersman, president and CEO of the NSC, “Americans take their safety on the roadways for granted.  Driving a car is one of the riskiest activities any of us undertake, in spite of decades of vehicle design improvements and traffic safety advancements. Engage your defensive driving skills and stay alert.”

Traffic Accidents and Human Error


Road danger is a man-made crisis, with human error accounting for over 90 per of accidents.  The majority of all accidents are related to bad driving behavior.

Disregard of Traffic Control Devices


Failure to yield at a traffic control device, usually a stop sign, yield sign, or traffic light can pose a significant risk to vehicles which have the right-of-way.  This can often result in a “T-Bone Collision” where the risk of injury is very high.

Even with side-wall airbags, the fact remains that most car safety devices are designed to prevent injury from a front-end collision.  Seat belts do not do much to prevent sideways movement.  Dashboard airbags are also not of much help, and may not even deploy from a side impact.


Failure to Yield


Beyond traffic lights, yield and stop signs, accidents relating to failure to yield often occur at unmarked intersections, entry ramps, traffic circles, and points where lanes of traffic merge. Not everybody respects the rules of right of way, or pays attention to merging traffic. It is important to exercise additional care at such points of potential danger.


Rear-End Collisions

In most jurisdictions, a driver who rear-ends another car is presumed to have caused the accident. In most cases, that presumption is correct.  The driver at the rear follows too closely, or doesn’t pay attention to what is going on in the roadway in front of his car, and doesn’t take notice that another car has stopped or slowed in front of him until it is too late to avoid collision. In higher speed rear-end collisions involving a line of cars, such as cars stopped at a traffic light, you may see the initial collision propel the stopped cars into each other, such that three, four, or even more cars become involved.

Additional factors which commonly contribute to accident include:

Dangerous Passing:  Attempting to pass another vehicle on the shoulder, in a “no passing zone”, where the line of vision of oncoming cars is obstructed, where oncoming traffic is dangerously close, or similar passing conduct will often contribute to car accidents.

Dangerous Turning:  Attempting to turn from the wrong lane, or suddenly slowing or stopping in a traffic lane upon realizing that you are about to pass a desired intersection or exit ramp, can be extremely dangerous to other drivers.

Overcorrecting:  Avoid panic-like steering.  Many rollovers occur when drivers overcorrect their steering as a panic reaction to an emergency, or even to a wheel going off the pavement’s edge.  At highway speeds, overcorrecting or excessive steering can cause the driver to lose control, which can force the vehicle to slide sideways and roll over.

Reading While Driving:  Attempting to read instructions, road maps, or other materials while driving a car.

Use of Electronic Devices:  Attempting to change a tape or CD, dial a cellular phone, use an inappropriate entertainment device (such as trying to watch a DVD while driving), or other similar act can distract a driver from the road and increase the chance of an accident.

Vehicle Defects:  Poor maintenance of a vehicle, particularly of its brakes, can contribute to accidents. Drivers are responsible to make sure that their cars are safe to drive.

Vehicle Lights:  The failure to properly use turn signals, the failure to properly maintain headlights, brake lights, and signal lights, the failure to illuminate headlights.

Road Rage

There is no question but that road rage contributes to car accidents. This happens both through intentionally dangerous driving acts, such as braking suddenly in front of another car, pulling up right on another driver’s bumper or even trying to tap the other driver’s bumper, and also through the fact that angry drivers are more likely to make mistakes in their driving conduct. Worse, as road rage incidents often occur on highways and freeways, the accidents that result can be extremely serious, and can involve additional vehicles. If you are being victimized by an angry driver, try to find a way to remove yourself from the situation – slow down or take an exit. If the angry driver pursues you, try to pull into the parking lot of a police station or a busy business. If you are considering engaging in acts of road rage, you should also remove yourself from the situation, if necessary pulling over until you have calmed down.


The attorneys at Rue & Ziffra have been handling automobile accident cases for 40 years.  If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident, call 386-788-7700.  For more information, please visit:

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