Motor vehicle collisions continue to be the leading cause of death in the category of unintentional incidents. And it’s not getting any better. According to a new study by UAB, fatal car accidents in Alabama have increased by 26% from the year 2020 through 2022.
The statistics get worse. The state of Alabama consistently has one of the country’s highest rates of fatal car accidents when adjusted for its population density. Even though there were less miles traveled by Alabamians in this time period than in prior years, the study showed a “large increase in deaths per incident.”
Methods and Results from UAB Study
The researchers at UAB used data from the Alabama eCrash database, which is a electronic reporting data system used by law enforcement statewide. Other data was gathered from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration. Using this compilation of data, the researchers compiled four key data points:
- Death per collision
- Injuries per collision
- Collisions per vehicle miles traveled
- Vehicle miles traveled per population
The study then broke down the data into two time periods, 2017-2019 and 2020-2022, to determine whether the pandemic had any effect on driver safety. Some of the results were expected, while some were shocking.
First, as to be expected, miles per vehicle traveled dropped significantly in the time period of 2022-2022 as compared to the years prior. In addition, injuries per collision also decreased. However, despite these findings, the mortality rate of collisions increased.
The researchers did not make any conclusions on why the collision fatality rate increased. However, researchers suggested that risky driving behaviors increased during the pandemic and persisted into more recent years. The study’s primary conclusion was:
In a state with one of the highest MVC-related mortality rates in the country, despite decreases in VMTs per population and injuries per MVC, the MVC mortality rate per population did not change during the pandemic due in part to the contributions of an increase in the case fatality rate.
Potential Reasons for Increase in Fatal Car Accidents in Alabama
There is data that suggests the following risky driving behaviors increased during the pandemic:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. For example, a DOT study showed that drunk driving fatalities increased by 9% in 2020.
- Distracted driving. One study showed distracted driving increased by 22% in the last three years
- Speeding. Some data indicates that speeding became much more widespread during the pandemic
Unfortunately, these risky driving behaviors have continued, at least in Alabama. Alabama continues to have one of the highest rate of fatalities per collision in America.
Compensation for Fatal Car Accidents: Wrongful Death Claims
If someone is killed in a car accident in Alabama due to the negligence of another driver, the deceased’s legal heirs are entitled money damages by making a wrongful death claim. In Alabama, the sole measure of compensation for wrongful death is punitive damages. These damages are money that is awarded to punish the wrongdoer and to deter future similar conduct.
The at-fault driver’s insurance company should pay the full amount of the policy limits of liability insurance in a case involving death. In addition, the deceased’s heirs can seek to collect uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits from the deceased’s car insurance company. In addition, they can collect uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits from any insurance company of any resident-relative of the deceased.
To file a wrongful death claim, an estate usually must be established on behalf of the estate. The personal representative of the estate is the only proper party to bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of a deceased adult. If the deceased was a child, the custodial parent can bring the claim without opening an estate.
To learn more about how wrongful death claims are handled, read our blog post Everything to Know About Wrongful Death in Alabama.