Driving is an inherently dangerous activity, but it’s necessary for many California residents to get to work, manage their families, run errands, and visit with family and friends. All California drivers have a duty of care to drive safely, but not all drivers uphold this duty of care, and accidents happen every day. Unfortunately, new data from the National Safety Council suggests that car accident fatality rates are climbing.

2018 was the first year in three consecutive years to have less than 40,000 reported traffic accident fatalities in the US, with a total of 39,404. In 2019, this figure appeared to drop another 2%. During these two years, fatal traffic accident rates in California remained relatively consistent. Unfortunately, recent reports from the National Safety Council indicate that the first quarter of 2020 saw a dramatic increase in traffic fatalities despite pandemic-related travel restrictions in the state.

The latest report shows a dramatic year-over-year 14% increase in fatal traffic accidents for vehicle miles driven during March in 2020. The total number of miles driven during this same time compared to 2019 reports dropped nearly 19%. However, the fatal accident rate per 100 million vehicle miles driven increased to 1.22 in March of 2020 from 1.07 in March of 2019. During the first three months of 2020, California witnessed an 8% year-over-year increase in fatal traffic accidents.

How to Avoid Accidents on the Road

It’s important to ensure you do not become a statistic in the face of rising traffic fatalities in California. Ultimately, there is no way for you to predict or account for the actions of other drivers who may cause accidents with you or others on the road. You can take a few steps to reduce your own chances of causing an accident and avoiding injurious or fatal accidents:

  1. Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is imperative for all drivers of all ages and experience levels. Driving under the influence is not only extremely dangerous but also highly illegal. Driving under the influence dramatically increases the chances of a subsequent accident, causing a fatality, and drivers who cause such accidents will face not only civil liability for the damages they cause but also criminal penalties.
  2. Drive defensively. “Defensive driving” is the concept of driving with your full attention dedicated to the road, your vehicle, and your surroundings. When you adopt defensive driving as an everyday practice, you become more alert and responsive to changing traffic conditions and are more likely to avoid accidents.
  3. Eliminate distractions while driving. Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of fatal accidents. Do not use your smartphone or other devices while operating your vehicle and maintain focus on the road at all times. Distracting conversations with passengers, roadside events, or even adjusting your stereo or climate control while in motion can have devastating repercussions.
  4. Provide yourself ample time to reach your destination. If you feel rushed to get where you are going, you are more likely to make mistakes or engage in risky maneuvers on the road. Allow yourself extra time to reach your destination to account for potential traffic jams and other delays, so you do not feel rushed.
  5. Abide by traffic signs and signals. Speed limits are not suggestions, nor are the other traffic signals posted on the roads. Abide by these signals at all times and use your best judgment in uncertain situations and unfamiliar areas. If you are lost or confused, pull over to a safe location and check your GPS or find directions with your phone while parked safely.
  6. Avoid aggressive drivers. Some drivers are dangerously aggressive on the road. They may weave between lanes of traffic, pass at unsafe speeds, and fail to use turning indicators when turning or changing lanes. Although it may be tempting to respond with aggression of your own when these aggressive drivers frustrate you, doing so only increases the chances of an accident or dangerous altercation with the other driver.

These tips can help you minimize your chances of experiencing fatal traffic accidents in California. However, you cannot always predict the actions of other drivers nearby, and another driver may cause an accident with your vehicle unexpectedly. If you or a loved one recently experienced a traffic accident that resulted in an injury or fatality, it’s essential to speak with an Orange County car accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.

At Easton & Easton, we have represented many clients in personal injury and wrongful death cases resulting from dangerous driving. Contact our team today to schedule a free case evaluation, and we will let you know how our firm can assist in your recovery.