What Are the Fatal Four?

Car accidents are very common in Missouri, often resulting in minor injuries and property damage. However, certain actions can make a car accident more severe than others.The World Health Organization designates four specific instances of dangerous driving behaviors as the “Fatal Four,” or the behaviors that are most likely to cause severe injury or death during a collision.

#1: Driving Too Fast

The speed limits are in place for a very important reason – they help keep drivers at safe speeds for the type of road they are on. Driving just a few miles per hour over the posted speed limit could be the cause of a serious, fatal accident. Whenever you drive, make sure that you adhere to the speed limit at all times.

You should also keep in mind that speed limits can change depending on the weather conditions, the state of the road, and the road’s surface. If it is snowy, rainy, or foggy, you may want to drive slower than what the speed limit says. If you notice that the road has damage, you may want to slow down as well. Driving too fast in inclement weather or on a damaged road can lead to you losing control of your vehicle and getting into an accident.

#2: Using Your Mobile Phone While Driving

Distracted driving is an incredibly dangerous behavior – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reading a text message while driving 55 miles per hour is the equivalent of driving across an entire football field without looking. If there are any football players on that field, that blind drive can lead to serious injuries or death.

Using a mobile phone while driving can distract you in three different ways. You take your hands off the wheel to operate the phone, which results in manual distraction. You take your eyes off the road to read whatever is on your screen, resulting in visual distraction. Finally, you use your brain to comprehend what is on the screen or to listen to the other end of the conversation, resulting in cognitive distraction.

Any combination of these types of distraction can lead to a serious accident. You are not able to respond to driving situations as quickly as you should and can lose control of your vehicle or hit pedestrians and other vehicles on the road. To stay safe, keep your phone out of sight whenever you drive.

#3: Not Wearing Your Seatbelt

We have to wear our seatbelts whenever we are in a vehicle – without a seatbelt, what would normally be a minor accident can result in serious injuries and even death. The CDC provides the following statistics on seatbelt use and car accidents.

Missouri has laws in place that require seatbelt use whenever you are driving or riding in a motor vehicle. You should always use your seatbelt when driving, even if you are just taking a quick trip to the store or picking up your child from the school down the street.

#4: Driving Under the Influence

Using alcohol or drugs and driving is very dangerous. You have impaired judgement, a delayed response between your brain and eyes, and slower reaction times, which can easily result in a fatal accident. You do not have the fine motor skills necessary to operate your vehicle, which can increase your chances of a rollover or swerving into another vehicle. Never drink and drive – instead, call a taxi or rideshare service to make sure that you get home safely.

If you lost a loved one due to a fatal car accident or you are struggling with the aftermath of a car accident, legal options are available to you. Under Missouri state law, you have the right to claim compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages during recovery time, and death benefits for the loss of a loved one. Contact a Kansas City personal injury attorney to discuss your case and to file your personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim.