Car accidents can cause devastating injury and substantial property damage. Many people deal with the aftermath of a car accident for the rest of their lives, from struggling with mobility issues related to severe injuries to dealing with the high cost of medical care and essential services. Like many other highly populated areas in Florida, the Tampa area sees many accidents.
Tampa Car Accidents: A Look at the Numbers
Each year, the Tampa area sees an estimated 27,000 car accidents occur.
These accidents include:
- 18,000 or more injuries that require treatment
- Approximately 230 fatalities
- 15,000 accidents involving property damage
- 490 bicycle crashes
- 600 motorcycle crashes
- 610 pedestrian accidents
These accidents affect victims long beyond the initial accident.
Common Causes of Tampa Car Accidents
Tampa car accidents can occur for many reasons. Often, car accidents occur because of negligent driver behavior. Any time one driver engages in potentially risky behavior behind the wheel, it can substantially affect the driver and those around them.
Tampa has many potentially dangerous intersections where many accidents occur each year. For example, Sheldon Road at Waters Avenue West and Anderson Road at Waters Avenue West see more than 100 crashes annually. Waters Avenue West, Hanley Road, and Hillsborough Avenue West at Sheldon Road have frequent accidents annually.
Dangerous intersections can see more accidents for several reasons. Often, these intersections have heavy traffic. For example, many people travel through Waters Avenue West daily, increasing the risk of a collision.
Dangerous intersections may also have:
- Poor signs and markings indicate the proper way to proceed through traffic. When drivers cannot see who has the right of way or where they need to go, they may end up causing an accident because they do not know who has the right of way. Poor markings can also make it difficult to predict other drivers’ behavior.
- Lack of adequate lighting. At night, even with headlights on, drivers may have more trouble seeing the movement of other vehicles around them or seeing indications that tell them when and where to turn. That lack of lighting can also make it more difficult to see pedestrians and cyclists.
- Poor visibility. Not only does lighting make a huge difference in drivers’ ability to safely navigate an intersection, but the ability to see clearly through that intersection can also help drivers navigate more effectively. Unfortunately, many dangerous intersections have plant overgrowth, construction equipment, or signs that make it difficult to see the intersection clearly, which means drivers may have difficulty navigating it.
Drivers cannot always avoid dangerous intersections. They can, however, proceed with caution as they move through them to keep themselves and others safe.
According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle report, the Tampa area sees an estimated 400 alcohol-confirmed crashes and 50 drug-confirmed crashes each annually. Drunk driving poses many dangers. First, drunk drivers can behave unpredictably, which means other drivers may have difficulty avoiding them.
They may also:
- Suffer from tunnel vision. Tunnel vision can make it difficult for drunk drivers to see what’s happening around them.
- Prove more likely to engage in reckless behavior, from speeding to swerving between lanes.
- Struggle to safely control their vehicles. Some drunk drivers, especially those suffering from a high level of intoxication, struggle to keep up with the movement of their vehicles on the road or to keep the vehicle in its assigned lane.
- Suffer from decreased or slowed reflexes, making it more difficult for those drivers to react appropriately in an emergency.
NHTSA notes that around 30 percent of traffic crash fatalities around the United States may involve drunk driving annually.
Due to its status as a popular vacation destination, Tampa may see more drunk drivers than other locations. Each year, Tampa sees an estimated 24.5 million visitors. Those visitors may come to enjoy the beach or participate in any number of popular vacation activities. While they kick back and relax, Tampa visitors may enjoy more drinks than usual and drink at times of the day when they normally avoid drinking, including at lunch.
According to the FLHSMV report, Tampa area has more than 3,000 accidents involving teen and young adult drivers yearly. Teen and young adult drivers often lack the skills developed by their older counterparts. They may suffer from poor decision-making skills, including a higher risk of reckless behavior.
Despite strict regulations governing cell phone use, teen drivers may have difficulty avoiding distractions behind the wheel. They may also show off for peers in the vehicle with them, causing them to take chances that can result in serious accidents with substantial injuries.
Teen drivers also, in many cases, do not know what to do when confronted with a potential accident scenario, which can make it more difficult for them to avoid an accident. Teen drivers may need stricter regulations governing their driving behaviors, including the hours they can safely drive and clear parental oversight to help them avoid increased accident risk.
Driving while distracted occurs all too frequently throughout the Tampa area. Florida law requires drivers to put their phones down while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers cannot use wireless communication devices, including cell phones, to manually type or enter multiple letters into any communication device. Furthermore, they cannot hold wireless communication devices in school and work zones, including when talking on the phone.
While most people recognize the potential dangers of driving while using a cell phone, some may not recognize the other dangerous behaviors that can fall under the umbrella of distracted driving. Distracted driving involves any behavior that takes the driver’s eyes, hands, or attention away from the task of operating a motor vehicle. In some cases, even distraction at a red light or stop sign can lead to a catastrophic accident as drivers struggle to keep track of everything that takes place around them.
Distracted driving may include:
- Checking or touching up makeup
- Eating or drinking behind the wheel, especially messy foods that have a higher risk of dripping or spilling
- Using a GPS device
- Changing the radio controls
- Changing music from a cellular device
- Changing climate controls
- Carrying on a conversation with someone in the vehicle
- Dealing with children or pets in the vehicle
- Reaching for a dropped or sliding item
- Checking work information before heading in for a meeting or event
Drivers often do not think twice about distractions that can take their eyes off the road. They may also ignore the dangers of reaching away from the wheel. Some drivers can even suffer from a high level of cognitive distraction, which occurs when the driver has his mind on something entirely outside of driving.
Tourists may sometimes suffer from higher levels of distraction because they have more new sights and sounds occupying their attention as they enjoy time on vacation.
Speeding through the Tampa area may prove more dangerous than drivers might think. Speeding can significantly increase both crash risk and the damages associated with the crash, which means that drivers who speed may suffer more substantial injuries and have more long-term problems dealing with the aftermath of the crash.
Speeding drivers often choose to increase their rate of speed for several reasons. Some drivers simply enjoy the thrill. Others think they can safely handle these speeds, even though posted speed limits indicate the maximum safe speed for those areas.
Drivers may need more time to slow down or stop speeding vehicles. They may struggle to bring the vehicle to a safe stop when confronted with a cyclist or pedestrian, and they may have difficulty controlling the vehicle. Furthermore, speeding means more force involved in the accident, so drivers and victims involved in speeding accidents may sustain more serious injury.
In addition to speeding, many drivers will engage in various reckless behaviors that may increase their risk of an accident and injuries associated with that accident. Reckless driving can include swerving in and out of traffic, tailgating, or ignoring the rules of the road.
In many cases, reckless drivers may feel that they should not have to adhere to those rules, or they may be in a hurry. In some cases, vacationing drivers may throw their usual inhibitions to the wind. They may have unfamiliar vehicles—in many cases, vehicles that can reach higher speeds than their usual ones—and they feel they should enjoy themselves while on vacation.
Unfortunately, these reckless driving behaviors can make it difficult for others to predict the behavior of the reckless driver. Furthermore, reckless driving may make it more difficult for the driver to safely control the vehicle, raising the risk of an accident.
Ignoring the Rules of the Road
Traffic signs and signals, speed limits, and other legal regulations exist to help provide as safe an experience as possible for everyone on the streets of Tampa. Unfortunately, some drivers ignore those regulations as they take to the road.
In many cases, drivers will fail to yield to oncoming traffic or ignore clear traffic signs, which can cause them to suffer serious injuries in an accident. Ignoring the rules of the road can also make it more difficult for others to predict what a driver will do next, raising the risk of an accident.
What To Do After a Tampa Accident
After a Tampa accident, many residents and visitors reel as they deal with the aftermath. You may know that you need to report the accident and seek medical care for the injuries you or your passengers sustained in the accident, but what comes next?
Start by contacting a lawyer who can help you address your legal rights and pursue the compensation you deserve for your Tampa car accident injuries. A lawyer can fight on your behalf, whether that means locating essential evidence that will establish which driver caused the accident or clearly laying out the compensation you deserve for those injuries so that you can pursue fair compensation from the liable driver’s insurance company. A lawyer can also help you avoid potential traps that could reduce the compensation you can recover.
As you recover, make sure you follow the instructions issued by your medical care provider. Many people want to jump back into normal activities sooner than recommended or may not want to follow all of a care provider’s instructions related to overall care. However, failure to follow these instructions could mean sustaining more severe injuries or prolonging recovery time, and the insurance company may refuse to cover these additional damages.
Finally, document all the details related to your accident and your recovery. Note recovery times, instructions issued by your care provider, and the struggles you faced while dealing with the aftermath of your car accident. These notes can later prove essential to your claim.
Contact a Lawyer for Help with a Tampa Car Accident Claim
If you suffered injuries in a Tampa car accident, do not try to handle the claim on your own. Contact an experienced Tampa car accident lawyer to get more information about your rights and next steps.