Broadside collision in Pueblo CO

Attorney Gordon Heuser Asks, "Can More Car Accidents Be Prevented?"

By closing your eyes and imagining your reactions while experiencing a car accident, certainly a of lot things rush to the front of your mind. We all share that sudden feeling of fear, concern, real physical tension and ultimately the question, “Am I hurt?”.

Car wreck victims who are physically able to leave the crash site relatively unhurt will eventually face a growing number of clues as to the actual cost of the accident. There is an emotional output after an accident, then there’s time spent reliving the experience for the police and insurance companies. Now, you need time to figure out how to make it through your daily routines without use of your car. Add on the time spent waiting for repairs to be complete, or shopping for a new vehicle.

Then, the bills roll in.

There’s no denying the staggering financial costs of car accidents. A recent press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that motor vehicle crashes cost American’s a whopping total of  $99 billion in 2005. You could divvy that up to $500 per year for every licensed U.S. driver. Motor vehicle crashes are the primary cause of death for the 1-34 year old age group, and those specific fatal crashes cost us $58 billion.

Can these costs be reduced, or even prevented?

The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, an arm of the CDC believes so, as well as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Recent Toyota recalls and cell phone bans are called “issues du jour” in the IIHS August Status Report. It goes on to say such issues distract from serious driving safety issues like speeding and running red lights. Members of the media are prone to give more coverage to the newest developments, and the general population eats up stories on accidents caused by new issues (like using technology while driving) and tragedies caused by auto manufacturer mistakes.

How do the statistics stack up in Colorado Springs? Do we overlook dangerous ongoing issues and concentrate more on the big stories?

The most recent Colorado Springs/El Paso County data (from 2008) says 404 crashes happened because the driver was “inattentive to driving.” The latter category includes eating and other behaviors, in addition to talking on a cell phone.  (Note: Colorado’s cell phone law for teens did not go into effect until December 2009.) Also, car crashes that resulted from a vehicle defect totaled only 27 in El Paso County.

Colorado Springs statistics are hard to match up exactly to their argument. Obviously, speeding is the primary cause of traffic incidents in our area while defective vehicles are low on the causation list. Distracted driving appears to be an issue, but we need to more information about the kinds of distractions that cause accidents. Still, issues du jour may be something to think about writing off in exchange for the more statistically proven habits of dangerous drivers. The IIHS and CDC both want more time spent on safety strategies like child safety seat regulations and education, primary seat belt laws and stronger enforcement of those laws, graduated driver licensing for teens, helmet laws and sobriety checkpoints.

In next week’s blog, we’ll look at how these other traffic safety issues impact drivers in Colorado Springs and elsewhere in the state.