Articles Tagged with medical expenses

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Back Door Pub in the 12300 block of Lake City Way NE, Washington became the scene of an accident that injured one woman when a man in his 30s allegedly crashed his car into the bar. The woman was pinned between the building and the man’s vehicle. According to the owner of the bar, the man sped his SUV toward a power pole but instead veered toward a group of people and crashed into the building, damaging a wall.

The 31-year-old woman pinned against the building had to be extricated. She was taken to Harborview Medical Center where she was treated for a fractured leg.

The bar owner alleged the man purposely caused the accident because he had been refused a drink at the bar. Police are investigating the accident but have not yet confirmed if the driver was arrested or is facing a DUI charge.