Number of Highway Safety Trends in Arkansas
The Arkansas Highway Safety Office (AHSO) analyzes historical crash data by compiling statewide traffic fatality and injury trends. The AHSO areas of emphasis are consistent with the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) guidelines and the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Moreover, the AHSO coordinates with the goals and targets of the Highway Safety Improvement Plan (HSIP).
The various safety agencies use the data to identify specific traffic safety issues in Arkansas and develop countermeasures to prevent serious injuries and fatalities. This data is especially crucial for Arkansas motorists as the reports indicate that the state has recently experienced a nearly 25% rise in fatal car accidents.
Arkansas highway safety trends highlight the common causes of accidents in the state. Understanding the rate and cause of Arkansas auto accidents is crucial to pursuing compensation for injuries after a collision. An experienced Arkansas personal injury attorney can help those who have suffered injuries or lost a loved one because of another’s negligence.
At the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield, our Arkansas car accident lawyers are dedicated to helping accident victims and their families secure full and fair damages awards. We believe that justice isn’t served if you and your family are left bearing the burden of the economic and non-economic impact the accident had on your life. Therefore, we strive to maximize our client’s recovery to cover all accident-related expenses, making it easier to move on with your life after a potentially life-changing accident.
Highway Safety Problems in Arkansas
The AHSO categorizes primary traffic safety problems as fatal, non-fatal injury and property damage crashes on Arkansas’ roadways. In addition to directly identifiable safety data, the agency reviews other issues and deficiencies that may contribute to Arkansas accidents. However, the agencies emphasize traffic accidents involving the following:
- Serious, incapacitating injuries,
- Alcohol and drug-related accidents,
- Speeding fatalities,
- Seatbelt use,
- Unrestrained passengers
- Motorcycle crashes,
- Pedestrian fatalities,
- Bicyclist fatalities, and
- Teen fatalities.
Accident data based on the 5-year period 2015-2019 indicates that the number of fatalities at 550 in 2015 and 640 in 2020. While deaths have increased, accidents causing severe injuries went from 2,888 in 2015 to 2389 in 2019. Although the data shows minor decreases, there is an average of 532 fatalities and 2679 serious injuries from accidents in the state.
The increase may be partially attributed to increased speeding and fatalities because of decreased enforcement during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. A significant concern area is the low seat belt use rate in Arkansas. For example, in 2019, there were 350 passenger fatalities; nearly 50% involved unrestrained occupants.
Cause of Arkansas Car Accidents
Investigating and understanding the cause of an Arkansas car accident is key in determining who was at fault and responsible for the ensuing injuries and damages. Most car accidents are preventable, and many Arkansas car accidents involve driver errors. Errors typically involve errors concerning the following:
- Performance, or
In addition, accidents may involve vehicle defects, such as issues with the following:
- Brakes, and
Environment-related reasons for accidents often involve the following:
- Slick roads,
- Signs/signals, and
- Road design.
Many accidents involve a combination of causes that ultimately lead to a crash.
Arkansas Accident Trends
AHSO data highlights some important areas of concern for Arkansas motorists. Some problems include the following:
- Fatal accidents involving drivers 20 years old or younger increased from 48 in 2017 to 59 in 2018;
- Pedestrian accidents increased from 49 in 2016 to 62 in 2019;
- Between 2014 and 2019, there were 24 bicyclist fatalities;
- Arkansas’ seatbelt usage rate of 84% is significantly below the national average of 90%.
In addition, Arkansas government officials are particularly concerned with the rates of distracted driving and impaired driving.
Distracted Driving in Arkansas
Distracted driving is a common issue, yet it is challenging to define, quantify, and sometimes observe. Distracted driving in Arkansas often stems from lifestyle patterns and decisions. Cell phone use while driving creates a substantial risk of deaths and injuries on Arkansas roads, and a growing number of traffic fatalities are being linked to distracted driving. Data from the NHTSA shows the following:
- Nine percent of fatal accidents, 15% of injury accidents, and 15% of police-reported auto accidents involved distracted drivers;
- In 2019 over 3,000 people died, and nearly 425,000 people suffered injuries in a crash involving distracted drivers;
- Six percent of all drivers involved in fatal accidents in 2019 were distracted at the time of the accident;
- In 2019 there were 566 nonoccupants killed in distracted driving accidents.
While there are some measures to combat cell phone use, distraction continues to be a major cause of nationwide accidents.
Impaired Driving in Arkansas
From 2015 through 2019, 26% of fatal accidents involved impaired drivers. The following ten Arkansas counties had the highest rates of alcohol-related traffic fatalities:
- Hot Spring
In addition to DWI alcohol-related problems, various drug threats continue to affect Arkansas motorists. Arkansas law enforcement and other safety agencies report that methamphetamine, fentanyl, heroin, controlled prescription drugs, marijuana, and cocaine, pose dangers to road users in the state.
Damages after an Arkansas Accident
After an Arkansas car accident, injured motorists, passengers, pedestrians, bystanders, and other road users may seek compensation for their injuries and losses. Arkansas law permits accident victims to seek economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. The type and amount of damages available depend on the unique facts and circumstances of the accident.
Economic damages refer to quantifiable, out-of-pocket expenses that the victim incurred because of the accident. These damages include compensation for medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and future lost earning capacity.
Non-economic damages are subjective losses. These losses include payments for physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, and loss of the enjoyment of life.
Unlike economic and non-economic damages, designed to make the victim “whole again,” punitive damages are intended to punish and deter the at-fault party. The victim bears the burden of proving the following:
- The at-fault party knew, or should have known, that their conduct would likely result in injury or damage and that they continued the behavior with malice or reckless disregard for the consequences from which malice may be inferred; or
- The at-fault party intentionally pursued a course of conduct to cause the victim’s injury or damage.
The victim must meet these elements through clear and convincing evidence of the aggravating factors. In light of these stringent standards, Arkansas courts rarely award punitive damages.
Limitations to Damages in Arkansas
Arkansas maintains a series of laws that can impact an accident victim’s right to compensation after a crash. For example, Arkansas maintains a three-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims.
Comparative Negligence in Arkansas
Arkansas follows the modified comparative negligence model in personal injury cases. Under this framework, a victim can recover damages if they are less than 50% at fault for the accident or injuries. The amount of damages will be reduced proportionate to the victim’s fault, but the victim cannot recover damages if they are 50% or more at fault for the accident.
Were You Involved in an Arkansas Traffic Accident?
If you or a loved one was recently injured in an Arkansas car or truck accident, it is imperative that you have an experienced personal injury attorney representing your interests at every step of the way. At the Law Office of Jason Hatfield, we have decades of experience providing accident victims and their families with the comprehensive, diligent, and client-centered representation they need to reach the best possible outcome in their case. Whether we are investigating the crash to refute claims that you were at fault, negotiating to secure a favorable settlement offer, or litigating your case in front of a jury, we have the knowledge, dedication and experience needed to help you obtain the damages you deserve. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with one of our Arkansas motor vehicle accident lawyers today, call the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield, P.A. at (479) 361-3575. You can also connect with us through our online contact form.