In Oklahoma, the leading cause of accidental death, traditionally, has been motor vehicle accidents. In recent years, accidental poisoning-largely from drug overdose-has challenged auto accidents as the top cause of unintentional death, but across most age groups, car crashes are the most likely cause of fatal injuries. What causes most car wrecks? What types of motor vehicle accidents are most likely to be fatality accidents? Each year, the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office releases a number of documents related to crash statistics in cities across Oklahoma to give a picture of the riskiest driving behaviors, the most dangerous times to be on the road, and more.
The 2013 City Crash Facts document looks at accidents on Oklahoma roads and categorizes them in virtually every way imaginable. It lists the number of non-injury accidents, non-incapacitating injury accidents, incapacitating injury accidents, and fatal accidents per city. It examines the relationship between alcohol and crash likelihood and severity. It considers speed-related accidents, pedestrian accidents, and it even compares the number of accidents occurring on rural roads, city streets, state highways, and interstates. It examines the month, day of the week, and even the time of day most accidents occur. For law enforcement and highway safety officials, all of these statistics can help prioritize, design, and implement programs to improve roadway safety. For the average citizen, such statistics can help illustrate the dangers of certain driving behaviors-drunk driving or fatigued driving, for example-and can inform drivers and passengers when it is in their best interest to stay off the roads. The leading cause of car accidents is distracted driving. Most distracted driving accidents are attributed to either daydreaming or rubbernecking-looking at something outside of the vehicle. These accidents tend to be minor fender benders, but with a more significant distraction, such as texting while driving, the severity of the accident is likely to increase. Still, among the most deadly accidents on Oklahoma roads are those involving drug or alcohol impairment. Let’s look at how drunk driving factors into auto accidents in the two largest cities in Oklahoma-Oklahoma City and Tulsa. In Oklahoma City last year, there were 16,892 total motor vehicle accidents. Of these nearly 17,000 accidents, more than 6,400 involved possible, non-incapacitating, or incapacitating injury, and 74 proved fatal for one or more of those involved. Tulsa had 10,102 accidents. More than 4,000 involved injury or possible injury, and 46 were fatality accidents. What role did alcohol play in those accidents? Of the 74 fatality accidents in Oklahoma City last year, 20 involved alcohol. Another 50 accidents causing incapacitating injury were attributed to alcohol use, and 130 more accidents caused other injury. In Tulsa, 12 of the city’s 46 fatality accidents were alcohol related, and 199 of the injury accidents involved alcohol. Using those statistics to make comparisons, we quickly learn that while alcohol was involved in only 672 of Oklahoma City’s 16,892 accidents-approximately 4 percent-it was attributed to 27 percent of the city’s fatal accidents. In Tulsa, the statistics are similar: alcohol was a factor in 4.5 percent of the city’s total crashes, but it contributed to 26 percent of Tulsa’s fatality accidents. Drinking and driving is a deadly risk. If you or your loved one is harmed or killed in a DUI accident, financial compensation may be available to you through a personal injury lawsuit. Contact us to find out your legal options.