Speed matters. Most fatal car accidents occur when a driver is traveling at 55 miles an hour and traveling in a straight line. The least number of fatal accidents occur when the car is traveling at 30 miles an hour or less.
These are some of the findings in an analysis of car accidents in 2019 conducted by Frederick Penney, managing attorney of Penney and Associates injury lawyers in Sacramento, Calif. Most of the data comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Drivers are encouraged to examine the findings. They might help in understanding when you are at more risk while driving. You might also be able to drive more effectively in a way that avoids collisions whenever possible.
Car crashes in the U.S.
More than 6 million automobile crashes in the United States in 2019 were reported to the police, Penney reports. In almost 2 million of these accidents, the occupants or pedestrians were injured. A car accident might be entirely out of your control, Penney explains. Perhaps another driver was driving too fast or failing to pay attention. Possibly a car ahead lost control or a car swerved to avoid unanticipated debris on the road. Whatever the reason, however, it is important to look at what kinds of car accidents are most common. Here is a look at what the statistics show, according to Penney’s analysis.
Types of collisionsRead More »
Slower driving is safer driving, according to the crash statistics. More fatal accidents took place at 55 miles an hour than at any other speed.
Ironically, however, cars traveling at more than 60 miles an hour were a little less likely to be involved in a fatal accident (11,814) than those traveling at 55 miles an hour (12,681).
By contrast, fewer than 4,800 vehicles traveling at 30 miles an hour or less were involved in a fatal car accident. The difference likely is that higher speeds put more force on the driver and occupants in a crash, Penney suggests. A reason for the higher number for 55 miles an hour as opposed to 60 miles an hour and above could be that more cars are on the road and the driving conditions are more hazardous at 55, Penney suggests.
Slightly faster speed
Researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found even a small increment in speed can represent a far greater danger to a car’s occupants. A 40-mile-an-hour front-end crash resulted in slight protrusion in the space occupied by a driver. At 50 miles an hour, however, researchers found noticeable distortion in the door on the driver’s side, dashboard, and footwell. The crash dummy that was used in the tests showed signs of lower leg and neck injuries at that speed.
Higher speed limits can cancel the benefit of improvements in vehicle safety such as airbags and better designs in the structures of the cars, says Dr. David Harkey, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The faster that drivers are traveling before a crash the less likely that they will be able to reduce their speed to one that is survivable even should they have an opportunity to brake before the crash, he adds.
The conclusion: Although modern passenger cars are safer now than in the past, speed is significant in the safety of an occupant regardless of the vehicle in which you drive.
Car maneuvers are also important is assessing crash statistics, Penney says. A driver is responsible for making the maneuvers. Other drivers should be anticipating the way in which other cars are moving on the road.
The statistics show that most cars were traveling straight when they were involved in accidents that are fatal (27,164). Other accidents occurred when a car was negotiating a curve (7,758), turning left (3,154), changing lanes or merging (785), or stopped in a lane (595).
These figures make sense, Penney suggests, because most car drivers are usually traveling in a straight line most of the time. Such accidents might include rear-end collisions, head-on accidents, or even impacts from the side, such as when two or more cars enter an intersection and one of the cars might hit the side of another car.
Drivers might want to draw conclusions from the statistics.
• For example, because most accidents occur at 55 miles an hour while the car is traveling in a straight line, it is important always to keep a safe distance from the car in front of you.
When traffic is heavy, drivers often will travel at 55 miles an hour close to the car in front of them. Driving in that way at a high speed can be dangerous, however, as you will not have sufficient time to stop the car should the driver in front of you be forced to break sharply or swerve to avoid an object in the road.
• You can reduce the chances of suffering a rear-end collision by braking as soon as the car in front of you brakes or shows signs of slowing down. Doing so gives the car behind you, which might be tailgating you, warning that a slowdown is ahead. If you have kept space in front of your car you have time to brake more evenly over a longer stretch of road so that the driver behind you has time to brake without hitting your car.