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Some Washington motorists may know that some days are safer than others when it comes to driving, but a few of the risky periods may be somewhat surprising. Statistics show many different days each year on which the hazards of the road are more prominent than usual. While holidays like Memorial Day weekend are obvious because of the number of vehicles on the road during the traditional kickoff to summer, others are more unusual.

Memorial Day weekend may already seem like an obvious time to avoid driving more than necessary due to the higher incidence of alcohol-related accidents and fatalities. Daylight saving time is a less obvious choice, but one study showed that the hour of lost sleep correlated with a 17 percent increase in traffic fatalities on the following Monday. Black Friday is another dangerous day to drive and park, as demonstrated by a Progressive Insurance report showing a massive 36 percent increase in parking lot claims and doubled overall claims.

Alcohol consumed by drivers increases the risks of being on the road on St. Patrick’s Day and New Year’s Day. For reasons yet to be explained, however, Friday the 13th also poses a higher risk of traffic accidents. A United Kingdom insurer has reported that collision claims rose approximately 13 percent on Friday the 13th, regardless of the time of year in which the day falls. Aggressive driving tendencies in general rise during major holidays, increasing the likelihood of an accident.

After being in a car accident that was caused by another driver, it is important that it is reported to the authorities. In addition, it is a good idea to report the accident to the insurance company of the driver who was at fault. Although the driver who caused the accident is required to report it to his or her insurance provider, those who are responsible for a crash aren’t necessarily motivated to do so.

It is important for all parties to get as much information as possible to help bolster their claims in the aftermath of a motor vehicle accident. It is advisable to take pictures, collect insurance information from other drivers involved and get witness statements from anyone who saw the crash occur. The report that is made to the insurance company should only state the facts in the case.

The insurance company will typically conduct its own investigation and the police will make a determination as to whether either driver broke the law. In some cases, the insurance company may need to look into the case itself before authorizing any repairs or paying for any damage that may have resulted from the crash. In the event that the other driver’s insurance company refuses to honor a valid claim, drivers should file claims with their own insurance company and let their insurer take steps to obtain reimbursement.

Approximately 100,000 auto accidents reported to police are caused by tired drivers in Washington and the other states every year. Young adult men, shift workers and people with children are the most at risk for driving while drowsy. The National Sleep Foundation conducted a survey in 2005 and found that around 168 million adult drivers drove while they were sleepy, and around 103 million people have fallen asleep while driving.

Fatigued drivers are more prone to attention lapses. Sleep deprivation may also cause behaviors that result in auto accidents such as impatience and faster driving. The National Sleep Foundation conducted a poll and found that people between 18 and 29 years of age were more likely to drive in a fatigued state than older people.

Driver fatigue causes approximately 71,000 auto injuries, 1,550 deaths, and over $12 billion in losses each year. These numbers may be higher since it is difficult to determine sleepiness as a cause of the crashes. Australian researchers have shown that 18 hours without sleep is equal in impairment to a blood alcohol level of 0.05. After 24 hours, the impairment is equivalent to 0.10. A person is considered legally drunk at 0.08. Fatigued driving accidents have caused drivers to go to jail.

One of the leading causes of car accidents is distracted driving. While many drivers engage in activities that take their eyes off of the road, teenagers tend to be among the worst offenders. In a recent survey, 40 percent of teenagers admitted to texting while driving. Although that percentage is high, it is actually lower than earlier studies have found, according to the Oregon State University professor who led the most recent research.

In addition to texting behind the wheel, 27 percent of teenagers who participated in the survey said that they changed their clothes while driving, which came as a surprise to researchers. Other common activities that the respondents admitted to engaging in while behind the wheel included changing contact lenses, putting on makeup and doing homework. As time goes on, those who study the issue of distracted driving want to change the mindset of younger drivers behind the wheel. Through increased education, it may be possible to convince teens that it is never a good idea to multitask while driving.

Parents may be able to act as an influence on their children when it comes to proper behavior while in a car. Researchers also say that almost anything that takes a driver’s eyes off of the road can be distracting. Therefore, it may be important to keep drivers from changing radio stations or using a GPS device while a car is moving as it could lead to reduced accident rates.

Three people were injured in a multi-vehicle collision on a Washington highway on the night of March 1. According to the Washington State Patrol, early investigation indicated that the crash occurred because a suspected drunk driver was traveling in the wrong direction on Highway 18 and sideswiped one vehicle before colliding head-on with another.

The wrong-way driver, a 37-year-old Puyallup woman, was the only occupant of a 2012 Honda Civic. According to authorities, the Civic was westbound on the eastbound side of Highway 18 approximately one mile west of Kent just prior to 9:30 p.m. A 52-year-old Tacoma woman was eastbound on the highway in a 2002 Dodge Stratus; she swerved but was sideswiped by the Civic, which then continued on and crashed head on with a 1997 Mercedes driven by a 48-year-old Carnation woman.

Police and rescue workers arrived on scene after receiving reports of the crash. The driver of the Civic was transported to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center. Authorities have indicated that she may face criminal charges, including vehicular assault and driving under the influence, once she is released. The other two drivers were transported to Valley Medical Center. None of the vehicles were carrying any passengers.

There are many different types of injuries a Washington driver may suffer should he or she become involved in a car wreck. One of the most serious injuries that could be suffered includes damage to the spinal cord, which could result in an injured person losing physical function below the point of injury.

The spinal cord is responsible for transporting messages from the brain to the rest of the body. Should that pathway become injured or damaged, the messages cannot reach their intended destination. The spinal cord does not necessarily need to be completely severed in order for the injured person to lose function. When this does occur, however, this is known as a complete injury. In general, the level of a spinal cord injury can determine what abilities are lost.

There are two stages of a spinal cord injury. The first is the initial injury that is caused by the accident. Following the injury, the spinal cord will swell, which could cause further damage. However, some people may regain certain functions as the swelling goes down. Very rarely, others may regain function years after they suffered the injury.

Most Washington motorcyclists know that there are certain dangers unique to motorcyclists when they travel the state’s highways and roadways. This is because motorcyclists face certain problems that motorists do not, including road hazards such as potholes, puddles and railroad tracks and instability at higher speeds. No matter who causes an accident, the fact remains that motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to die in an incident than other motorists.

In 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that more than 4,500 people died and approximately 88,000 were injured in motorcycle accidents. In total, motorcycle deaths accounted for 14 percent of all crash fatalities for that year. More than half of those killed were over the age of 40. Approximately 37 percent of motorcycle fatalities were attributed to alcohol use, with 29 percent of deceased motorcyclists having a BAC of .08 percent or higher when they died and another 8 percent having a BAC between .01 and .07 percent at the time of their deaths.

If a motorcycle accident does occur, there is a chance that the injured cyclist may recover damages. However, in order to be eligible to seek compensation, there must be evidence that the other driver was responsible for causing the crash and that the accident occurred as a result of negligence or recklessness.

When a person in Washington is involved in a motor vehicle collision, he or she may suffer a shoulder fracture in addition to other possible injuries. Common shoulder fractures resulting from car crashes include fractures of the collarbone, or clavicle, and fractures of the proximal humerus, or the top of the arm bone. Less commonly, a person may also suffer from a fractured scapula, which is the bone at the back of the shoulder.

The three bones of the shoulder all work together, connected by muscles and tendons, to provide the range of motion necessary for the arm via a ball-and-socket connection. In a high-speed collision, trauma to the chest can break the clavicle and sometimes the top of the arm bone. Such fractures normally will require immobilization, using things such as a sling along with physical therapy. If the fractures are compound ones, such as a clavicle which is broken and then extends through the skin, surgery may also be required. Similarly, if the proximal humerus is broken to such an extent that the two pieces are not lined up, surgery may be necessary.

Fractures to the scapula are less common, as the scapula is well protected by the chest wall and the muscles of the back. Normally, it takes significant force to fracture the scapula, such as the force that occurs in a high-speed, violent collisions. If the fracture is severe, plates and screws may be necessary, along with ongoing physical therapy.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health declares nearly 10 million drivers in 2013 aged 12 and older admitted to driving while impaired by illegal drugs. This figure translates to about 3.8 percent of the population, and in the same year, about 11 percent, or 28.7 million drivers, confessed to driving under the influence of alcohol. While the numbers have dropped over recent years, many drivers test positive for both drugs and alcohol after causing motor vehicle accidents.

The NSDUH survey also showed that the highest risk group for impaired driving is those aged 18 to 25. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2009 showed that 18 percent of the drivers across all age groups who died in motor vehicle accidents that year tested positive for at least one type of drug.

Drugged driving, whether the drugs are prescription medications or illegal substances like marijuana or cocaine, can impair a driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle because reaction times and motor skills are easily affected by these substances. Many prescription drugs, including those used for pain relief and anxiety, come with specific warnings against operating machinery or motor vehicles. Other studies have determined that 4 to 14 percent of drivers who suffered injuries or death in auto accidents tested positive for marijuana use.

A Washington bicyclist was critically injured in an accident when he was hit by a vehicle driven by a 19-year-old woman police say was impaired. According to a Puyallup police representative, the bicyclist had the right of way at the intersection where the accident occurred.

Police said the driver appeared impaired after the crash and allegedly told officers she had used marijuana that day. She said she was taking a new antidepressant that she believed affected her ability to drive. Police administered a field sobriety test and determined the driver was impaired. She was taken into custody and arraigned on Nov. 26 in superior court where she was charged with vehicular assault, and bail was set at $250,000. Two passengers in the vehicle were released from custody.

The 66-year-old bicyclist was hit where SW Fourth Street intersects SW Ninth Avenue near the fairgrounds. According to arrest records, the woman was heading south when she failed to stop at a traffic sign and continued through the intersection, hitting the former church pastor. The woman continued on, pushing the bicycle and its rider into the side of a building. Witnesses said two passengers in the vehicle pulled the driver outside of the car but did not approach the injured cyclist.

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