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The Fatal Four of Driving

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on March 19, 2018

There are many things a driver can do to make his trip out on the road more dangerous. But there are four driving behaviors so dangerous that they’re known as the fatal four. It’s important for drivers to know what these behaviors are so they can avoid them and arrive at their destination safely.

Here’s what you need to know.

1. Speeding

According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, speeding is a main causes of severe car accidents. And according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Act Administration (NHTSA), one-third of all car crashes involve drivers who were speeding. Car crashes involving speeding kill over 13,000 people, and critically injure 40,000 people, every year.

So why is speeding so dangerous? Check out these points below to see how going above the speed limit, or driving too fast for conditions, can negatively affect you as a driver.

  • You have less reaction time, and are less able to respond quickly to situations and objects in the road.
  • You have less distance to stop. The faster a car is going, the longer it takes that vehicle to stop. This means even if you react just as quickly while speeding as you do while doing the speed limit, your vehicle may not be able to stop in time to avoid hitting someone.

Did we mention speeding tickets in Washington state start at $125 and can reach hundreds of dollars? Also, your car insurance rates usually skyrocket after a speeding ticket.

2. Lack of Seatbelts

Wearing a seatbelt while in a car has been the law in Washington since 1986, and for good reason. In 2013 alone, 31% of car crash fatalities in Washington were attributed to accident victims not wearing seatbelts. As the statistics show, there is a greater risk of death when seatbelts are not worn. “Among drivers and front-seat passengers, seatbelts reduce the risk of death by 45%, and cut the risk of serious injury by 50%,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

When you don’t wear your seatbelt, you risk being ejected from the vehicle in an accident. Also, Washington fines start at $124 per occupant not wearing a seatbelt, and they increase depending on the age of the occupant, and if the person charged has a history of not wearing a seatbelt.

3. Fatigue

Driving while fatigued is incredibly dangerous. Serious fatigue can slow a driver’s reaction time and even cause him to fall asleep and veer off the road or into other vehicles. While there are no laws specifically geared towards fatigued driving in Washington, it is such a huge problem in the state that the week of November 11–17 has been declared Washington State Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. Here are other problems (besides delayed reaction time) that come from driving while fatigued:

  • Your vision can become blurry or impaired.
  • You process information more slowly and may have problems with short-term memory.
  • You lack focus and concentration.
  • You can become more aggressive and are more likely to experience road rage.

While there are no fines for fatigued driving in Washington, drivers can be given tickets for things like reckless driving or distracted driving while driving fatigued.

4. Alcohol

Drinking and driving has been a problem for decades throughout the United States, and Washington is no exception. In fact, driving while impaired is still one of the leading causes of motor vehicle crashes in Washington. According to the CDC, from 2003–2012 there were 1,921 fatalities from car crashes that involved impaired driving, and 2.1% of drivers stated that they knew they had too much to drink before getting behind the wheel. So what is it about alcohol that makes driving afterward so dangerous?

  • Your reaction time is slower. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows down major body functions.
  • Your depth perception is affected, so you may think a vehicle in front of you is farther away than it actually is.
  • Your motor skills are greatly impaired. (Again: alcohol is a depressant.)

DUI penalties are very serious in Washington. Fines can range anywhere from $500 to $5,200, drivers could be ordered to attend a 90-day alcohol treatment program, and drivers may be sentenced to up to 364 days in jail for a first offense. Plus, your auto insurance rates will skyrocket when you’ve been charged with a DUI, even if it is a first offense.

Take Safety Seriously in Washington

Any time a driver heads out onto the roads, he should make sure that he stays within posted speed limits, is well-rested, wears his seatbelt, and has not been drinking. The importance of avoiding the “fatal four” cannot be emphasized enough!

However, even if you abide by the rules to prevent accidents, other drivers may not. Speeding is probably the most common offense, and it causes much more serious accidents. If you’ve been injured in a crash, we recommend speaking to a high-speed accident lawyer in Seattle. At Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., our attorneys work with former claims adjusters to make sure you get the maximum compensation to cover your injuries. For a free consultation, please call (888) 228-3860.

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