In March 2018, a school bus full of students and adult chaperones plunged into an Alabama ravine. The bus driver was killed by a blunt force injury, and 20 crash victims were hospitalized with injuries. At the frightening scene of the crash, a few passengers had to be cut free from the bus, as rescuers required three hours to pull everyone from the wreckage.
Sadly, this isn’t the first deadly bus crash involving teenage passengers in Alabama. In 2006, a school bus careened off a highway overpass. Four students died.
Amid high-profile accidents like these, here’s a look at how common fatal car accidents in Alabama are.
Alabama Car Accident Statistics
Table of Contents
According to the most recent data available, in 2016, the auto crash fatality rate in Alabama was higher than the national average, according to Drive Safe Alabama. While the traffic fatality rate in the country is 7 per 100,000 people, in Alabama, it’s 13.7 per 100,000 people – nearly double. Half of all fatal crashes in Alabama in 2016 occurred at night. Every four minutes in 2016, a traffic crash in Alabama was reported.
Traffic fatalities increased by nearly 25 percent year-over-year in Alabama in 2016. Distracted driving is one of the most prominent factors causing the increase, since the number of reported cases involving distracted driving increased 20 percent from 2014 to 2016.
One of the possible reasons for higher car accident fatalities in Alabama compared to national numbers is that there are many rural areas in Alabama, where emergency services may take longer to get to the scene. The Alabama Rural Health Association reports that the motor vehicle accident mortality rate for residents in rural Alabama areas is more than 55 percent higher than it is for residents in urban Alabama areas. Drivers in Alabama should be aware of increased accident risk, especially when they are farther away from emergency services, and always wear seatbelts and drive safely.
What Causes Alabama Accidents?
According to a 2017 study by the University of Alabama, the most common critical causes of traffic fatalities in Alabama in 2016 included:
- Increased speed
- Lack of seat belts
- Distracted drivers
These are in line with common driver-related critical reasons for crashes cited by the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA cites the following as prominent reasons:
- Recognition error
- Decision error
- Performance error
- Non-performance error, such as sleeping at the wheel
Emerging technologies like smartphones and in-car navigation have increased car crash risks in Alabama and throughout the country. The Federal Communications Commission reports there are 9 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries a day in the country due to distracted driving.
In Alabama, texting while driving is illegal. Adult drivers may use handheld cell phones while driving, but drivers younger than the age of 18 may not use any cell phones or text messaging.
What to Do If You’re in a Car Accident in Alabama
If you are driving safely and legally in Alabama, and you are in a car accident that causes serious injuries or even a fatality, it’s important to take proper precautions to protect yourself. Follow these steps.
- Call emergency services. A police report is important for a possible auto accident claim. Police can make sure witnesses stay at the scene and gather statements, as well as create a written document that details the scene of the accident and the state of the other driver.
- Document the scene. In addition to securing a police report, create your own documentation of the scene. Take photos of cars and injuries or ask someone to do so for you. Gather contact information for witnesses. Take note of any suspicious behavior by the driver. Do they smell like marijuana? Did they apologize to you that they weren’t paying attention, or admit cause to the accident? Let the police know what you notice, too.
- Get medical treatment. Accept medical treatment that is offered to you. You might have injuries that aren’t immediately apparent. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Contact a car accident attorney. If another driver’s negligence caused your accident, you may be able to successfully file a personal injury claim against that driver. If the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, if the driver was texting while driving, if the driver was driving dangerously, or if the driver was doing a whole host of other negligent behaviors, consult with an attorney. Consultations are usually free, and a lawyer may help to build a case with evidence and testimony that gets you the financial compensation you deserve. You may receive an offer of compensation from an insurance company, but it may be far less than you are entitled to. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible after the accident, and don’t accept a settlement before doing so.
Car accidents in any part of the country are traumatic, but with increased risk in Alabama, be vigilant to stay safe. Don’t use your phone while driving, take a defensive approach that factors in the behaviors of other drivers, and always follow all safety laws.