Safety Tips For Driving At Night In Oregon

driving a car at night as another vehicle approaches with its headlights on.

Portland, Oregon, car accident lawyer explains why collisions occur at night

As the days get shorter and nights get longer this time of year, traffic safety officials at the National Safety Council (NSC) want drivers to know car accidents often occur at night due to various reasons explained on the NSC’s night driving safety tips page.

“When Daylight Saving Time ends… many people will find themselves spending more time driving in the dark,” the NSC night driving page states. “Depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision can be compromised in the dark, and the glare of headlights from an oncoming vehicle can temporarily blind a driver.”

The dangers of driving at night – especially in northern states like Oregon in the fall and winter – are real. Our Portland car accident attorneys at Zbinden & Curtis know because we have worked with many people injured in collisions caused by other drivers at night. That’s why all motorists should take care when driving after dark.

Why are car accidents more common at night?

Car accident statistics clearly show that drivers often cause collisions at night, especially in the fall and winter. For example, from October through March, the peak time for fatal car accidents is from 4 p.m. to 7:59 p.m., according to the NSC and based on accident data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The most dangerous time of all to be on the road is Saturday night when fatal car accidents peak.

According to the NSC, common reasons why collisions occur at night include:

  • Compromised night vision, especially among drivers over 50 years old.
  • Visibility is usually limited to only 500 feet ahead at night.
  • More impaired drivers are generally on the road.
  • More tired drivers, especially soon after Daylight Savings Time ends in November and late at night any time of year. An estimated 60 percent of adults admitted they drive while tired, according to a National Sleep Foundation poll cited by the NSC.
  • Difficulty seeing due to other drivers driving with their high beams on.

Safety tips for avoiding a nighttime car accident

Suggested nighttime safety tips from the NSC include:

  • Make sure your vehicle headlights are clean and aimed correctly.
  • Dim your vehicle’s dashboard lights to reduce eye strain.
  • When driving at night, look away from oncoming headlights.
  • Drivers who wear glasses should make sure their glasses have anti-reflective lenses.
  • Clean your vehicle’s windshield and eliminate streaks that can affect visibility.
  • Finally, obey posted speed limits to have enough time to safely slow down and avoid a collision.

How a Portland car accident lawyer can help you

You might think you don’t need an attorney if another driver clearly caused your nighttime car accident in Portland or another part of Oregon. Such collisions might seem straightforward. All you have to do is contact the police and file an insurance claim, right?

Don’t be so sure. Many car accident claims turn out to be complicated legal cases. That’s why our Portland car accident attorneys at Zbinden & Curtis want to help. We understand the legal challenges crash victims often face in Oregon, and we can work with you to build a strong injury claim or car accident lawsuit.

Discover what we can do for you. Contact our law firm and schedule a free consultation with a Portland car accident lawyer who puts your best interests first. We have offices in Portland and Woodburn. In addition, you only have to pay us if we get you a financial settlement or verdict. That’s because we work on a contingency fee basis.

Now There Are More Fatal Crashes on Urban Than Rural Roads

Car T-boned in a Portland car accident

Portland installs ‘slow zones’ as speed contributes to the deadly national trend

Traditionally, more traffic deaths have happened on rural roads than on urban ones. However, this is no longer the case. In 2019, there were more traffic accident fatalities on U.S. city streets than on rural roads.

Between 2010 and 2019, fatal crashes increased in metro areas by 34 percent while they decreased in rural communities by 10 percent, according to a new AAA traffic report.

Researchers analyzed the relationship between crash factors and urban traffic deaths. Speed was a leading contributor to the spike in fatal city car accidents. Cities have a disproportionate number of speed-related fatalities compared to other communities.

The study says that deadly urban crashes are up due to more people moving from rural areas to cities. AAA concludes that community leaders should make necessary city street improvements to safely accommodate increased traffic from all types of road users.

At Zbinden & Curtis, we see the devastating effects of bad car accidents in Portland and other communities throughout Oregon every day. Our dedicated legal team fights to get injured crash victims the justice and compensation they deserve. Contact us for a free case evaluation if you were injured or a loved one died in a Portland area car accident.

Fatal urban traffic accident study

The following are highlights from the AAA study, “Traffic Fatalities on Urban Roads and Streets in Relation to Speed Limits and Speeding, United States, 2010-2019.”

  • Between local city streets, principal arteries, minor arteries, and collectors – fatal car accidents were least likely to occur on local streets. Instead, they most frequently happened on major arteries – like Powell Boulevard, Yeon Avenue (US 30), and 82nd Avenue (Route 213).
  • In fatal urban speed-related car accidents, speeders and their passengers are the most likely to succumb to injuries. They account for about 63 percent of speeding fatalities.
  • Men were far more likely to be in a fatal city speeding accident than women. Over the four years studied, about 27,600 men and 8,500 women were killed nationwide in speeding accidents.
  • The greatest number of fatal urban crashes (around 49,900) happened on roadways with posted speed limits of 40-45 mph. Another 41,000 fatal crashes were recorded on streets with speed limits of 30-35 mph.
  • Occupants in cars, motorcycles, and other passenger vehicles, as well as pedestrians, experienced the most urban traffic fatalities.
  • Speeding urban drivers were just as likely to cause a deadly crash in daylight or darkness. Whereas fatal traffic accidents where speed was not a factor were more likely to occur during daylight.
  • Roadways that use traffic signals experienced the most speed-related urban traffic fatalities compared to those that use regulatory signs and other signals or have no control.
  • One of the most common types of speed-related urban fatal traffic accidents was an angle collision, which is sometimes called a T-bone or broadside. Meanwhile, non-speeders were in more fatal collisions involving pedestrians and bicyclists than speeders.

Portland roadway safety upgrades

The City of Portland has made many roadway safety improvements and has plans for more. Recent measures taken to reduce crashes include:

  • Safety upgrades to reduce car accidents and gun violence at Arleta Triangle in Southeast Portland by altering an intersection to include community gathering space.
  • The city participated in the regional “Slow the Flock Down” campaign that used bright signs and the state’s bird to promote traveling at safe speeds.
  • “Slow zones” have been declared all over Portland. About 84 percent of city streets have speed limits of 25 mph or less.
  • Portland officials have made a concerted effort to alter speed limits to improve safety since 2017. This year, speed limits on the following streets were decreased to 20-30 mph:
    • Foster, from 89th to 91st
    • Glisan, from 22nd to Sandy
    • Halsey, from Grand to 30th
    • Hawthorne (eastbound viaduct), from Hawthorne bridge to Grand
    • Madison (westbound viaduct), from Water to Grand
    • Woodstock, from 91st to 93rd street

Portland car accident lawyers committed to helping victims

After a serious motor vehicle accident, put yourself in the best possible position to obtain the compensation you need and deserve. Contact the experienced legal team at Zbinden & Curtis for a free case evaluation. Do not delay. A statute of limitations applies to car accident injury claims and wrongful death lawsuits. To discover how an experienced Portland car accident lawyer can help you, contact us for a free case evaluation right now.

Brain Injury Facts You Should Know for National Concussion Awareness Day

MRI of a brain with a concussion concept. National Concussion Awareness Day is September 16, 2022.

Among the most common and misunderstood traumatic brain injuries are concussions. Each year, an estimated 3 million people sustain a concussion that requires hospitalization or emergency medical treatment, according to the Concussion Legacy Foundation.

But what is a concussion? And what causes these brain injuries? And how do you know if you or a loved one has a concussion? Questions like these helped prompt the creation of National Concussion Awareness Day, which will take place this year on Sept. 16. The goal of this event is “to start a conversation to increase concussion awareness nationally, raise funds for brain injury charitable organizations, and show support for those suffering.”

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury or TBI. Sometimes referred to as a mild TBI (mTBI), concussions are considered by many to be a less severe type of brain injury. But that’s not always the case. In many circumstances, a concussion can have serious or long-term consequences, including permanent brain damage.

This is especially true if a concussion is not diagnosed immediately and injury victims don’t get the medical care they need to recover fully. In addition, people who sustain more than one concussion in a short period of time can also experience long-term medical problems due to multiple concussions.

What causes concussions?

Concussions are often caused by a direct blow to the head or an accident that causes the brain to bounce off the inside of the skull. In many cases, concussions happen due to accidents caused by someone else’s reckless or negligent behavior. Examples include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents.
  • Slip and falls.
  • Falls from height.
  • Being struck by an object.
  • Sports-related injuries.

Common concussion symptoms

There are often many warning signs of a concussion. Such symptoms can result in physical, emotional, or cognitive changes in someone with a concussion. See a doctor right away if you or a loved one experiences any of the following concussion symptoms:

  • Nausea or vomiting after being hit in the head.
  • Dizziness or poor balance.
  • Memory lapses, including difficulty remembering common words.
  • Excessive tiredness.

It’s also important to understand that many concussion symptoms do not occur immediately after someone sustains a head injury. In many cases, concussion symptoms take several hours or even days to develop. Be aware of such delayed symptoms and seek immediate medical care if something seems wrong.

Who’s responsible for paying for my concussion?

Like many states, Oregon has an at-fault insurance system. That means the at-fault party is responsible for compensating you for your injury-related expenses. This might sound simple. But getting the money you deserve can often be much more difficult than you suspect. That’s why it’s critical that you talk to an attorney as soon as possible after you or a loved one sustains a concussion.

Portland brain injury lawyers

There are many reasons why you should hire an attorney to help you with your concussion injury claim. However, the main reason is that the at-fault party’s insurance company will likely do everything possible to reduce or deny your injury claim.

That’s not right. That’s why the Portland traumatic brain injury lawyers at Zbinden & Curtis want to help. Our legal team understands how the civil justice system works in Oregon. We know what laws apply to such cases. As your attorney, we can make sure your concussion claim gets the attention it rightfully deserves.

Learn more about your legal rights and options. Contact us today and schedule a free case evaluation. We have offices in Portland and Woodburn. Best of all, you pay no fees unless we make a financial recovery for you. That’s because our concussion injury attorneys take cases on a contingency fee basis.

Study: Men Three Times More Likely to Die In Distracted Driving Accidents

In 2020, more than 3,000 people died in car accidents involving distracted driving. Here in Oregon, thousands of car accidents are caused by distracted drivers yearly. While there are many elements of distracted driving, a new study shows that males are more likely to die due to distracted driving than females.

Distracted driving is hazardous, regardless if you are a male or female. But unfortunately, it is a common and risky driving behavior that too many people do daily. Tragically, distracted drivers often cause crashes that severely injure or kill others.

Crash victims have recourse through the civil justice system, but proving the at-fault driver was distracted can be challenging. And without the proper evidence, your case can quickly turn into a “he-said, she-said” situation that compromises the compensation you’re eligible to recover for your losses.

That’s why it’s crucial to contact a car accident lawyer if you were injured in a crash that was not your fault. At Zbinden and Curtis, Attorneys at Law, our lawyers can investigate your accident and uncover evidence to prove the other driver was distracted or driving recklessly. Then, we can fight for the compensation you’re entitled to under Oregon law. Schedule a free case evaluation with our personal injury law firm today to learn more about how we can help you.

What is distracted driving?

Distracted driving occurs when a driver’s attention is focused on something else that is not related to driving. Many people know that there are laws against texting and driving, but when it comes to distracted driving, that’s just the beginning. Distracted drivers are looking, hearing, handling, or thinking about something other than driving.

Compared to other states, Oregon has some stricter laws against distracted driving. According to Trusted Choice, it is currently against the law in Oregon to drive and:

  • Read, write and send a text message or email from a handheld device.
  • Talk on a handheld cellphone.
  • Use any handheld communication device.

The laws are even stricter for younger drivers. For example, drivers under 18 cannot use a cell phone or any mobile device while driving, even if it is hands-free.

Risky male drivers

According to data published in Newsweek, 75 percent of the distracted driving deaths in 2020 were caused by male drivers. In the same year, distracted driving killed 781 women and 2,125 men.

The Newsweek report noted that men are riskier drivers because they drive more than women. On top of that, distracted driving accidents caused by male drivers are often more severe because it’s more common for men to speed, drive drunk, and drive without wearing a seatbelt.

There are many different forms of distracted driving. The Drive shares how much more likely men are to participate in distracting driving than women. Men are:

  • 22 percent more likely to use their smartphones while behind the wheel.
  • 74 percent more likely to drive with their knees.
  • 70 percent more likely to watch videos while driving.
  • 260 percent more likely to check out pedestrians.

What to do if you were hit by a distracted driver

If you were hurt in an accident due to the reckless behavior of a distracted driver, a car accident attorney can help you hold the other driver accountable and fight for the financial compensation you deserve. At Zbinden & Curtis, Attorneys at Law, we will stand by your side, work to build the strongest possible legal case, and do everything possible to maximize the value of your claim.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a car accident lawyer from our Portland, Oregon, law office to learn more about how we can help you.

Pandemic Speeding & Risky Driving Continue to Plague Our Roads

25 mph speed limit sign above a police trailer that shows "your speed" as 40 mph. It's on the side of the road in a residential neighborhood.

People are being injured and killed in car accidents at an alarming rate.

A lot of people thought the lockdown and travel restrictions in 2020 would decrease overall traffic, car accidents, and injuries from crashes. But unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Instead, the opposite occurred with increased traffic fatalities nationwide—many the result of speeding. In 2020, more drivers ignored the speed limits on empty roads, and more high-speed accidents happened. Since then, the problem has only gotten worse.

Federal data shows that speeding has continued to increase through 2021. In addition, fatal crashes involving speeding spiked to some of their highest all-time numbers last year. As a result, researchers from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently analyzed data from the Virginia Department of Transportation to learn more.

What the data found was a significant increase in speeding by at least 10 mph during peak rush hour times (6 a.m. to 8:59 a.m., and 3 p.m. and 5:59 p.m.), suggesting people may have developed poor driving habits during the pandemic and continue to drive that way today.

Speeding in Portland

Speeding is and has been a nationwide problem. For example, the AAA Foundation for Traffic and Safety found that it was very likely that if a driver was on the road during the pandemic, they were engaging in speeding. Speeding is an aggressive driving behavior and a common cause of traffic accidents.

In Oregon, Portland police officers reported people driving at more than 100 mph, according to OregonLive.com.

Efforts to stop speeding

Vision Zero is an action plan to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries while increasing safety for our roadways. In 2015, Portland adopted the action plan and has been making changes for safer streets ever since. According to the city of Portland website:

  • There were no traffic deaths among cyclists in 2021, whereas in the previous five years, there was an average of 2.6 traffic deaths among cyclists.
  • A project on NE Glisan Street resulted in an 80 percent decrease in drivers speeding 10 mph or more over the speed limit.
  • Similar changes on NE 102nd Avenue caused speeding to decrease by 73 percent.
  • The Portland Bureau of Transportation installed left-turn yellow-and-black plastic dividers at intersections with a high crash rate. Since then, no pedestrians have been killed at those intersections.

Accountability is critical to keeping our roads safe.

At the end of the day, there is only so much each state can do to prevent serious car accidents. Remember, it only takes one negligent driver to cause a crash that leaves you or someone you love with severe injuries. That’s why holding reckless drivers accountable through the civil justice system is so important. Unfortunately, claims involving negligence can quickly become complicated legal cases. As such, it’s in your interest to seek experienced legal representation from an attorney who can protect your rights and advocate for the compensation you are entitled to under the law.

If you were hit by a negligent driver, our attorneys can fight for the compensation you deserve. We know how to build strong cases, deal with insurance companies, and get real results for our clients. To learn more about how we can help with your potential claim, contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Portland car accident lawyer from our law firm.

Oregon Traffic Deaths Spike While Fatal Car Accidents Surge Nationwide

highway traffic car accident

There have not been this many Portland traffic deaths in a single year since 1990.

Top transportation and safety advocates say that the skyrocketing fatal car accident rate in Oregon and across the U.S. has turned into a “crisis.”

In 2021, almost 43,000 people died on U.S. roadways. This is the most people killed by traffic accidents in a single year since 2006, according to the National Traffic and Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Locally, this deadly roadway trend plays out in Oregon cities, towns, and rural communities. Portland, for one, had a traumatic 2021. More than 60 people were killed in city auto accidents that year, the most roadway fatalities in over 30 years.

A crisis on the road

The high death toll – 42,915 U.S. roadway fatalities – set an NHTSA record for the highest year-to-year percentage increase in deadly crashes since the government started tracking fatal crashes in 1975.

From 2020 to 2021, roadway deaths shot by more than 10 percent.

Responding to the dire situation, the U.S. will use a part of the $1.3 trillion infrastructure spending package to improve roadway safety for all users, among other initiatives.

“Our country has taken a dangerous and deadly step backwards,” MADD National President Alex Otte told the Associated Press. “More families and more communities are feeling the crushing magnitude of this crisis on our roads.”

Why are there more fatal car accidents now?

Fatal accidents jumped up during the COVID-19 pandemic. Studies suggest that with fewer vehicles on the road, negligent drivers let their good driving habits slip. For example, police departments across the country have reported increased speeding incidents and less seatbelt use.

In Portland, there was a sharp rise in fatal pedestrian accidents. Last year, there were 27 pedestrian deaths. The year before that, 18 pedestrians died in traffic accidents.

The city also experienced a rise in highway accidents. More than half of 2021’s traffic deaths were on state highways compared to the typical 36 percent, KGW8 reports.

Portland’s High Crash Network

Most Portland fatal car accidents – 60 percent – occurred on streets in the “High Crash Network.” The network uses crash data to identify the most dangerous roads in Portland. Roadways in the network include:

  • Killingsworth.
  • Fremont.
  • Marine Drive.
  • Burnside.
  • Foster.
  • 82nd.

The report also identifies the city’s top 30 high crash-risk intersections. These include 122nd at Powell, Division, Stark, Burnside, Glisan; Columbia Boulevard at Killingsworth; and Ceasar E Chavez at Powell.

What causes fatal car accidents?

Many factors cause car accidents, but some arise more often than others. Some of the most common factors behind accidents like head-on, rear-end, angle, sideswipe, or backed into include:

  • Speeding.
  • Disregarded signs or signals.
  • Failure to yield right of way.
  • Distracted driving.
  • Following too closely (tailgating).
  • Failure to yield to a pedestrian.
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road.
  • Rear-ending a car stopped in traffic.
  • Drunk or impaired driving.

Car accidents can happen anytime and anywhere. Even the most careful drivers can wind up as seriously injured crash victims. Sometimes, you can’t avoid a driver who is being reckless and end up suffering injuries caused by a crash that was not your fault.

We stand up for crash victims and their families.

If you were injured or a loved one died in a car accident, contact our law firm for a free case evaluation. At no cost to you, we can explain how the law applies to your situation and help weigh your legal options.

In addition, you should know that we represent our clients on a contingency fee basis. That means there is no upfront money or retainer required, you aren’t billed hourly, and you pay no fees unless we win your case.

A member of our team is ready to hear from you now. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with an experienced Portland car accident lawyer.

Shoulder Injuries Are Common in Car Accidents

Car accidents have the potential to cause painful shoulder injuries. The shoulder is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body, and when you’re in a crash, the violent nature of the collision can cause a significant amount of stress and trauma that your shoulders are not made to withstand.

Shoulder pain after an accident can be a sign of a serious injury, which is why you should never self-diagnose and always seek immediate medical attention after a crash. The cost to treat a shoulder injury can be significant, and if you wait too long to get checked out, you could end up missing out on the compensation you’re entitled to.

Some of the most common shoulder injuries you can sustain in a crash include:

  • Soft tissue damage – The shoulder’s muscles, ligaments, and tendons can overly stretch and then tear due to the force of an accident, leading to a painful muscle strain or ligament sprain.
  • Torn rotator cuff – This injury occurs when the rotator cuff tendons in your shoulder are damaged. A torn rotator cuff is a painful injury that can limit your shoulder mobility.
  • Broken bones and fractures – It’s possible to fracture any one of the three major bones in the shoulder: the humerus, shoulder blade, or collarbone.
  • Dislocation – The rotator cuff keeps the bones of the shoulder in their socket. The impact of an accident can cause the bones to shift or completely pop out of the socket.

Symptoms of a shoulder injury

When suffering from a shoulder injury, it’s common to feel pain in that area. Sometimes, you may feel nothing at all. Pain can occur directly after a car accident or develop days or weeks later.

Some symptoms of a shoulder injury are:

  • Tingling or numbness in the shoulder or arms
  • Shooting pain
  • Feeling a burning sensation in the shoulder
  • Shoulder weakness or tenderness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Loss of motion or limited range of motion in the shoulder

Treatment

Depending on the severity of your shoulder injury, treatment may include rest, prescription medication, arthroscopic surgery, and physical therapy. If the injury is more extreme, you may need shoulder reconstruction surgery or joint replacement surgery.

Again, the important thing is to take your shoulder pain seriously and get checked out by a doctor. You need an official diagnosis, and a doctor will be able to order an X-ray, MRI, CT scan, or another type of imaging test to find out what’s causing your pain.

Contact a car accident lawyer

If you’re suffering from shoulder pain after a car accident, you need to seek medical attention right away. If not treated in a timely manner, the injury and pain may worsen. Seeing a doctor promptly after a crash also creates an immediate record of your injury, which can be critical to the outcome of your claim.

After that, you need to contact an experienced car accident attorney to go over your legal rights and options. The cost of a shoulder injury sustained in a car accident can be significant, and the insurance company has a financial incentive to pay you as little money as possible. That’s why you need a car accident lawyer to look out for your best interests and advocate for the compensation you deserve.

At Zbinden & Curtis, we know how to build winning cases. When you call us, we will listen to your story, answer your questions, and break down all your legal options so you can decide how you want to move forward.

To find out more about how we can help you, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Oregon Focuses On Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Driving is a task that requires focus and our full attention in order to be done safely. Distracted driving is a serious problem that leads to collisions every year. But despite laws to address the issue, there are still far too many car accidents involving distracted drivers that leave people severely injured or killed.

This April is once again “Distracted Driving Awareness Month,” which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) dedicates to bringing attention to this dangerous driving behavior and ways that it can be reduced.

There are three main types of distractions, notes EndDD.org. Manual distractions move a driver’s hand off the steering wheel. Visual distractions move a driver’s eyes away from the road. And cognitive distractions move a driver’s mind away from the task of driving.

The dangers of cell phone use while driving

Texting behind the wheel is an example of all three types of distractions, and cell phone use is one of the most common types of distracted driving. Studies have shown:

  • People who drive while talking on the phone are as impaired as driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08%.
  • Drivers using cell phones were 5.36 times more likely to be in a crash than drivers who were not distracted.
  • When commercial drivers text behind the wheel, they are 23 times more likely to be in a crash or a near-crash.

The Oregon Department of Transportation has been actively taking part in Distracted Driving Awareness Month. It is running its “Park Your Phone” media campaign throughout the entire month. Law enforcement agencies are also pursuing high visibility enforcement of distracted driving laws for all of April.

The state hopes to reduce the incidence of distracted driving. In Oregon, from 2015 to 2019, there were:

  • 23,783 crashes, 158 fatalities, and 23,403 injuries involving a distracted driver
  • 1,920 fatal and injury accidents involving a driver reported to have been using a cell phone, resulting in 20 fatalities and 1,880 people injuries
  • 151 crashes involving a driver age 16-18 using a cell phone, with no fatalities and 191 injuries.

It is illegal in the state to drive while holding and using any mobile electronic device. Violators can be fined or given the option of attending a Distracted Driving Avoidance course.

If you’ve been injured, talk to an experienced attorney

Any type of distracted driving is dangerous. Other examples include using a navigation system, adjusting controls on the dashboard, eating, drinking, and talking to passengers.

When a distracted driver causes a crash, people can be left with serious injuries. They need treatment, and medical expenses can add up very quickly. This can lead to financial stress, especially if they are unable to work because of their injuries.

Insurance companies are supposed to help but are mostly concerned about keeping payments low. The distracted driver who caused a crash may deny doing anything wrong. That’s why you need an experienced car accident lawyer on your side if you were hit by a distracted driver.

At Zbinden & Curtis, our attorneys build strong cases and fight aggressively for our clients to help them recover the financial compensation they deserve. If you’ve been hurt in Portland, learn more about how we can help. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.

Study: Oregon Has Some of the Worst Drivers

Car accident on road

Car accident death rate and speeding were cited as reasons

A recent national study conducted by Car Insurance Comparison ranked Oregon among the top 10 states with the worst drivers in the country due to the large number of car accidents caused by drivers statewide and several other factors.

“You know them when you see them — swerving in and out of lanes, flying down the highway at 100 miles-per-hour, unaware of cyclists and pedestrians, driving erratically down the road,” the Car Insurance Comparison study states. “They are the worst drivers, and they pose a hazard to everyone on the road.”

What makes Oregon’s roads so dangerous? Why do so many car accidents happen statewide? And is the problem getting better or worse in Oregon? The short answer? Car accidents continue to be a serious problem in Oregon.

Which states have the ‘worst drivers’ in the country?

The Car Insurance Comparison study compared car accident data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for every state based on five different criteria:

  • Car accident death rate
  • Failure to obey traffic laws (including fatal crashes involving drivers not wearing seatbelts, fatal crashes involving unlicensed drivers)
  • Careless driving accidents (based on pedestrian and bicycle accident death rates)
  • Crashes caused by drunk driving
  • Accidents caused by speeding

Using those five categories, Oregon’s drivers were ranked the 9th worst in the country. According to the study, New Mexico and Texas tied for the worst drivers in the nation.

Why do so many car accidents happen in Oregon?

Oregon ranked among the worst nationwide in two categories – the overall car accident death rate and speeding-related fatalities.

According to the Car Insurance Comparison study, 1.36 people die in motor vehicle incidents in Oregon for every 100 million miles traveled. In addition, 28 percent of fatal accidents in Oregon involved speeding drivers.

As for some of the other categories in the Car Insurance Comparison study, 13.86 percent of fatal accidents in Oregon involved drivers or passengers not wearing a seatbelt. In addition, 17.61 percent of fatal car accidents in Oregon involved drivers without a valid driver’s license.

As for pedestrian fatalities, the fatality rate for Oregon was 1.92 deaths per 100,000 people, which was the 9th worst nationwide. Oregon’s per capita bicycle accident fatality rate was also the 9th worst nationwide with 0.28 deaths per 100,000 people.

Meanwhile, 76.07 percent of fatal car accidents in Oregon involved drivers with alcohol in them at the time of the crash. This includes 167 car accident fatalities involving drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher, which is considered legally drunk. An additional 205 fatalities in Oregon involved drivers with a BAC of 0.07 or lower.

Are Oregon’s roads still as dangerous now?

The Car Insurance Comparison study was based on NHTSA car accident statistics from 2019. Since then, recent crash data shows things in Oregon have only gotten worse.

In 2019, a total of 493 people died in motor vehicle accidents in Oregon. The next year, 508 people died in Oregon car accidents even though there were fewer drivers on the road due to the pandemic.

And in 2021, car accident fatalities in Oregon skyrocketed during the first six months of the year compared to the first six months of 2020. In the first half of 2021, there were 261 car accident deaths in Oregon, an increase of 88 deaths or 51 percent more compared to the first six months of 2020. In 2020, 173 people died in motor vehicle accidents statewide, according to the National Safety Council.

Injured in Portland, Oregon? Talk to a car accident attorney today

If you were injured in a crash, you have the right to pursue compensation for your losses, and a car accident lawyer can help in many different ways. From conducting an independent investigation into your crash to negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf, an attorney can aggressively advocate for your best interests and fight for the financial compensation you deserve.

At Zbinden & Curtis, our car accident lawyers can help you every step of the way. We know the law and understand how the legal system works in Oregon. That’s why we have such a strong track record of success.

Discover what we can do for you. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced Portland car accident lawyer. We handle accident claims throughout Oregon and Washington.

Study: Roadway Deaths Involving Cannabis Have More Than Doubled Since 2000

Close up of hand on car steering wheel holding a marijuana joint

Oregon Car Accident Attorneys Discuss the Problem

Authorities are discovering more and more that at least one person involved in a fatal car accident has cannabis in their system.

Nationwide, the number of fatal crashes involving cannabis more than doubled – going from 9 percent in 2000 to 21.5 percent in 2018, according to recent Boston Medical Center research.

Crashes where alcohol and cannabis were present also went up from 4.8 percent to 10.8 percent over the same time period.

Marijuana’s contributions to the crash rate may be undercutting the anti-drunk driving effort and making roadways more dangerous, researchers say.

Oregon’s crash rate is up as well

Oregon voted to legalize marijuana in 2014 and, for the most part, has maintained a higher fatal impaired car accident crash rate than the nation.

In 2019, about 0.5 people were killed in impaired driving crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in Oregon, according to federal estimates. The national rate was about 0.3 that same year. This rate includes crashes where at least one of the drivers was impaired by drugs or alcohol.

Some communities experience more impaired driving crashes than others. Among the Oregon cities and towns that have encountered multiple fatal car accidents over the past five years or so are:

  • Albany
  • Bend
  • Eugene
  • Grants Pass
  • Gresham
  • Medford
  • Portland
  • Salem
  • Springfield

Measuring marijuana impairment

Since California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana, the U.S. has struggled to determine how marijuana affects driving abilities and then also develop a body fluid or breath test to quantify marijuana impairment. This lack of testing and agreed-upon standards has made it difficult to explicitly connect marijuana use to a higher risk for serious and fatal car accidents.

Still, we know that cannabis dulls many of the skills needed for driving, which almost certainly raises the risk of an accident. When people are high on weed, various research has shown that the following skills degrade:

  • Field of vision
  • Distance and time estimation
  • Hand/body steadiness and coordination
  • Traffic signal detection
  • Attention to detail
  • Information processing speed
  • Judging risk

Impaired-accident injuries

Car accidents caused by impaired drivers tend to be violent due to the extra risky driving behavior of high and drunk people. Some of the crash types most frequently associated with impaired driving are head-on collisions, which are often are fatal, and rear-end hits (tailgating, following too closely). Unsafe passing and distracted driving are also factors in impaired crashes.

Crashes caused by drivers under the influence of cannabis often cause severe and sometimes fatal injuries. The severity of the injuries is significantly increased by speeding. Among the most serious injuries related to impaired driving are:

  • Spinal Cord Injuries (SCIs)
  • Leg and knee tears or damage
  • Neck injuries, whiplash
  • Chest pain, cracked ribs, muscle pain, broken clavicle
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs), concussion, paralysis, nerve damage, decreased brain function

Don’t let an insurance company bully you into a lowball settlement

As marijuana becomes more common, it is important that Oregon crash victims fully understand their legal rights and options when they’ve been injured in an accident.

It is illegal to drive high in Oregon, but it is not necessary for crash victims to prove the at-fault driver was high at the time of the crash in order to obtain compensation for their losses.

The problem is at-fault drivers often deny responsibility, and insurance companies care more about protecting profits than paying you fair compensation for your losses. That’s why you need a car accident attorney to protect your rights and fight for the compensation you’re entitled to.

If you were injured in an accident that was not your fault or a loved one died in a fatal crash caused by someone else, you need to put yourself in the best possible position to recover the compensation you deserve.

Contact Zbinden & Curtis, Attorneys At Law to schedule a free consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer. At no cost, a member of our team will listen to the details of your case, explain how the law applies to you, and break down your legal options. We have offices in Portland and Woodburn and we proudly serve clients in Oregon and Washington.