There has been much news coverage about aggressive or distracted driving on our nation’s highways, as many drivers in Baton Rouge may attest. While there are many reasons behind these driving habits, experts agree that the trend started in the early days of 2020, when widespread lockdowns caused economic hardship and worries to many people.

Although fewer drivers were on the road, the fatality rate went up sharply when factoring in the total vehicle miles travelled (VMT) as people tended to speed, ignored traffic signals and increased their cellphone use while driving on mostly empty roads. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the fatality rate has continued rise in 2021 by 16%.

Factors that contribute to mortality in traffic accidents

While many accidents happen from distraction, reckless, or careless driving habits, some things that drivers do can also contribute to the severity of injury or death. The main factors that contributed to traffic fatalities in Louisiana in 2020 were alcohol use and that over half the drivers or car occupants were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. Over 40% of traffic fatalities were alcohol-related last year, and in 81.3% of the cases someone in the car had alcohol.

Not wearing a seatbelt is one of the leading causes of death in a traffic accident. In 2020, 58% of the drivers killed in a car accident were not wearing one during impact, and 51% of car occupants who died were not wearing one when airbags deployed. Safety belts reduce the risk of death to front seat car occupants by up to 45%.

Dealing with the aftermath of an accident

 If someone has been in an accident involving a distracted, reckless or impaired driver, they may pursue compensation through a negligence claim. The elements of a civil negligence claim are:

  • the duty of care the driver owed to the injured party
  • the breach in that duty of care
  • the injury that resulted from the breach
  • the financial loss the injured party has suffered as a result

In Louisiana, the court may reduce the award to the victim of a traffic accident if their injury was due to their own lack of care, such as in not wearing a seatbelt. Comparative negligence laws may lower the plaintiff’s final award by the percentage to which the court has found them responsible for causing the accident or injury. If you have been in an accident, it is wise to discover your options for receiving the compensation you deserve.