By now, most of us recognize several driver behaviors that increase the risk of collision. Driving while intoxicated, texting behind the wheel, and operating your car when you are extremely drowsy are all poor choices that could lead to painful and costly injuries (or worse). Unfortunately, states like Oregon are seeing a continuing upward trend in the number of traffic injuries and fatalities. Drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists continue to suffer severe injuries in auto-related accidents, and community safety watchdogs are asking why. As we move into the first few months of 2023, let’s take a look at what factors may be contributing to this uptick in traffic accidents in Oregon and Washington and what steps you can take if you find yourself suffering a car accident injury in the near future.
Risky Driving Behaviors on the Rise
During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, fewer cars were on the road. Most of us expected that the emptier streets would mean fewer accidents, but this was not the case. Instead, those who climbed behind the wheel took the open roads as an invitation to travel at excessive speeds or engage in distracted behaviors like texting while driving. As a result, most major cities across the country experienced a higher volume of crash-related injuries and fatalities. Now that people have returned to work and roadways are full of traffic once more, risky driving habits are still on the rise. According to Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), there has been a significant increase in “crashes involving speeding, drugs or alcohol, distraction, and unfastened seat belts.” It appears that many drivers in Oregon and Washington are engaging in risky behaviors that increase the likelihood of a collision.
Lack of Consistent Law Enforcement
One of the potential factors in this steady rise in car accidents is the lack of consistent law enforcement on Oregon and Washington roadways. Even though traffic volumes have risen back to pre-pandemic levels, the number of speeding or driving infraction citations has yet to follow suit. A spokesman for the Washington State Patrol stated that the organization has been operating with a deficit of approximately 150 to 200 troopers, meaning that fewer officers are on the road to monitor and address risky driving behaviors. Law enforcement agencies in Oregon and Washington recognize that they must work on recruiting and training more officers to make roads safer for drivers, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Pedestrian and Cyclist Fatalities Dramatically Increase
In the last few years, an alarming number of pedestrians and cyclists have passed away because of severe auto accident injuries. According to 2021 data from the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), “63 people died in traffic crashes in Portland, the highest number of traffic deaths in any year since 1990.” In 2021, Washington experienced 145 pedestrian fatalities, nearly a 32 percent increase from 2020 and the highest number on record. In response, traffic safety commissions are working hard to launch crash-reduction campaigns.
Steps to Take Following a Car Accident
Even the most cautious drivers may find themselves struck by an inattentive or impaired driver at some point. The aftermath of a car accident can be chaotic and overwhelming, but it’s essential to take certain steps to ensure you receive the medical attention and care you need. Below are some actions you should take to support your recovery and maximize your settlement offer when you pursue a personal injury claim.
Seek Medical Attention Right Away
First, assess yourself and others at the scene for injuries requiring immediate medical attention. Call for an ambulance if you or someone else needs to go to the hospital. However, even if you do not believe your injuries are severe enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room, you should still visit a doctor within the next day or so for a complete evaluation. Your physician can assess you for any harder-to-detect injuries, such as internal bleeding or traumatic brain injuries. The medical records established by your visit will also help to strengthen your personal injury claim, as they will detail the nature and extent of your injuries.
Contact Local Law Enforcement
Any time a car accident involves physical injuries, law enforcement should be notified. The responding officer can compile a police report, which serves as an objective account of the events and details surrounding the incident. When you move forward with your claim, you can include a copy of the police report to illustrate the other party’s role in causing the accident.
Work With a Trusted and Caring Personal Injury Lawyer
Although you are not required to work with a lawyer when filing an auto accident claim, doing so is worth it. The last thing you want to do during your physical recovery is to engage in tense negotiations with the insurance adjuster, so why not let your attorney step in to advocate for your best interests? Your attorney will answer your questions, address your concerns, and work hard to maximize your settlement offer and secure the compensation you need to support your recovery.
If you need help recovering compensation following an auto accident injury in Portland or Vancouver, call Henderson Taylor Law Firm today at (360) 737-1478 to speak with a trusted and friendly personal injury lawyer.