There are just under 4 million people in the great state of Oklahoma, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s estimates. A little more than half of us are licensed drivers, so it might seem like our chances of getting into a car accident would be pretty slim. But just because there are fewer Oklahomans on the roads doesn’t mean the roads are empty, or that outside forces of nature can’t affect us. And while our driving may have gotten a little better in 2015, according to CarInsuranceComparison.com, we’re still in a bit of trouble; we rank 13th on their annual list of the country’s worst drivers. Their reasons for the rank coincide with some of the Top 5 reasons people get into car accidents:
- Drunk driving. Whether you have had a few too many or the driver of the other vehicle has, drunk driving leads the list in Oklahoma. According to the Centers for Disease Control, we have more drunk driving-related fatalities than the national average. Mothers Against Drunk Driving says we have had “170 [fatalities] representing 25.1% of all total traffic deaths” in 2015.
- Speeding is a leading cause of auto accidents in Oklahoma. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which gather statistics about traffic fatalities per state, claims that 678 people died in car accidents because of speeding in 2013 (the most recent data available).
- Careless and distracted driving. Texting, cell phone usage, eating, trying to grab something off the floor – all of these distractions make us careless. Oklahoma currently has a ban on texting and a ban on handheld device usage for drivers with permits, but people still break the law – and the law does nothing to prevent drivers from using a hands-free device. When we take our eyes off the road for even a few seconds, we risk hitting another car or stationary object.
- Failing to obey traffic signs. Rolling through a stop sign or ignoring a yield sign can lead to an accident just as surely as texting while driving can. Another major cause of auto accidents involves yellow lights – as in, speeding up to “beat the light,” as opposed to slowing down. T-bone accidents, multi-car pileups and head-on collisions are likely when you fail to obey traffic signs.
- Bad weather. Mother Nature can be pretty cruel, especially in the fall and winter. Wet, slushy roadways combined with falling leaves and other debris can create hazardous driving conditions. If the weather is bad, consider not driving at all. If you must drive, make sure to obey the speed limits, to wear your seatbelts, and to be on the lookout (especially around curves or on unpaved roads) for objects in the road, or for animals that might dart out, when the roads are dark or foggy.
The best advice anyone can take is to drive safely: be aware of your surroundings, pull over if you need to make a call, and obey traffic laws and signs. You may be able to avoid an auto accident that leads to serious consequences if you do.
Stipe Law Firm is Southeast Oklahoma’s trusted source for legal counsel. We have spent the last 60 years helping auto accident victims take back control of their lives. Please contact us to make an appointment at our firm in McAlester, where we help clients just like you from all over Oklahoma.