Spokane’s roads are arteries of commerce and daily life, but they also present hazards. According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, numerous car accidents occur in Spokane yearly, leading to numerous injuries and fatalities. These statistics are not just numbers but represent lives and families affected by road mishaps.

Understanding the Common Causes of Accidents

Several factors contribute to car accidents in Spokane. These include:

  1. Distracted Driving

Distracted driving involves engaging in activities that divert attention from driving, including visual, manual, and cognitive distractions.

  • Texting: Sending, reading, or replying to text messages.
  • Eating or Drinking: Consuming food or beverages while driving.
  • Using Navigation Systems: Adjusting GPS settings.
  • Talking to Passengers: Engaging in conversations that require significant attention.

Distracted driving is a leading cause of road accidents. It significantly increases the chance of a crash by diverting the driver’s attention, even for a few seconds.

  1. Speeding

Speeding involves driving at a speed exceeding the posted speed limit or too fast for current road conditions. It’s a form of aggressive driving behavior.

  • Exceeding Speed Limits: Driving faster than the posted limit.
  • Racing: Engaging in competitive speeding with other vehicles.
  • Aggressive Overtaking: Rapidly changing lanes to overtake other cars unsafely.

Speeding reduces the driver’s ability to steer safely around curves or objects in the roadway, extends the distance necessary to stop a vehicle, and increases the severity of a crash.

  1. Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any substance that impairs cognitive and motor abilities is known as DUI.

  • Alcohol Consumption: Driving after drinking alcohol.
  • Drug Use: Operating a vehicle under the influence of prescription, over-the-counter, or illegal drugs.
  • Combination of Substances: Using multiple substances that impair driving ability.

Alcohol and drugs impair judgment, coordination, and reaction times. DUI is a major cause of traffic accidents and fatalities.

  1. Weather Conditions

Adverse weather conditions include any environmental phenomena that can negatively affect road safety, visibility, and vehicle performance.

  • Snow and Ice: Slippery roads reduce tire traction, increasing the risk of skidding and accidents.
  • Rain: Wet roads and reduced visibility can lead to hydroplaning and accidents.
  • Fog: Low visibility conditions make it difficult to see other vehicles and road hazards.

Weather conditions can lead to hazardous road surfaces, decreased visibility, and the need for longer braking distances. They require drivers to exercise additional caution and adjust their driving accordingly.

15 Practical Steps for Every Driver

While systemic changes and infrastructure improvements are crucial, individual responsibility is paramount. Here are practical steps every driver can take to minimize accident risks:

  1. Put the Phone Down

Eliminating distractions such as cell phones is crucial. This includes avoiding texting, social media browsing, and even hands-free conversations that can divert your attention from driving. Consider turning your phone to ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode while driving to avoid temptations.

  1. Respect the Speed Limit

Observe speed limits and adjust your speed according to traffic, weather conditions, and road types. Remember that speed limits are set for optimal conditions, so reduce speed when necessary, such as in heavy traffic or bad weather.

  1. Never Drive Under the Influence

Avoid driving when you have consumed alcohol, recreational drugs, or certain prescription medications that can impair your abilities. Always have a plan for alternative transportation, such as a designated driver, taxi, or rideshare service, if you expect to consume substances that could impair your driving.

  1. Buckle Up, Every Time

Ensure that you and all passengers wear seatbelts on every trip, no matter how short. Seatbelts significantly reduce the risk of severe injury and death in crashes. Educate all passengers about the importance of seatbelt use.

  1. Be Weather-Wise

Adapt your driving to different weather conditions. This includes reducing speed during rain, snow, or ice and increasing following distances. Ensure your vehicle is equipped with appropriate tires and that you’re comfortable with techniques for driving in various weather conditions.

  1. Practice Defensive Driving

Stay alert and anticipate potential hazards. Keep an eye on the traffic ahead, behind, and next to you, and always be prepared to react to other drivers’ unexpected actions. Defensive driving also involves respecting other road users and understanding that mistakes can happen.

  1. Regular Vehicle Maintenance

Keep your vehicle in good condition with regular maintenance checks. This includes timely oil changes, brake checks, tire rotations, and ensuring all lights are functioning. A well-maintained vehicle is less likely to break down or have a mechanical failure that could lead to an accident.

  1. Stay Calm and Focused

Avoid driving when emotionally agitated or preoccupied. Emotional driving can be just as dangerous as physical distractions. If you find yourself upset or distracted, take time to calm down before starting the vehicle.

  1. Use Technology Wisely

Utilize technology like GPS and safety features (like lane-keeping assists or adaptive cruise control) appropriately. Ensure that these aids do not replace manual vigilance and safe driving practices.

10 Know Your Vehicle’s Capabilities

Understand your vehicle’s limitations and features. Knowing how your car behaves in different situations, such as braking distances and handling characteristics, can be crucial in avoiding accidents.

  1. Avoid Driving at High-Risk Times

Be aware of high-risk periods, like late nights on weekends or holidays, when the likelihood of encountering impaired drivers is higher. Plan your travel accordingly to avoid these times.

  1. Practice Parking and Reversing Safely

Many accidents occur during parking or reversing. Always check your surroundings, use your mirrors, and proceed slowly when parking or backing up.

  1. Educate and Lead by Example

If you are a parent or mentor to new drivers, teach them safe driving habits by example. Younger drivers often emulate the driving behaviors of adults they observe.

  1. Understand and Use Safety Features

Modern vehicles come equipped with various safety features like airbags, anti-lock braking systems (ABS), and electronic stability control (ESC). Understand how these features work and how they assist in driving safely.

  1. Stay Informed About Road Laws

Keep updated on road laws and regulations. Traffic laws can change, and being informed helps you stay compliant and safe on the roads.

By adopting these comprehensive habits, drivers contribute significantly to a safer driving environment, ensuring their safety and the safety of others on the road.

Reducing Risks and Seeking Justice in Spokane

As we embrace the new year, let’s commit to safer roads in Spokane. Remember, prevention is better than cure. By staying alert, obeying traffic laws, and being prepared for diverse weather conditions, we can significantly reduce the risk of car accidents.

For those who find themselves in the unfortunate situation of a car accident, remember that you’re not alone. Craig Swapp & Associates offers comprehensive legal assistance, ensuring your rights are protected and you receive the compensation you deserve.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car or motorcycle accident, don’t hesitate to seek legal assistance. Contact Craig Swapp & Associates for a consultation. Their experienced team of accident attorneys and auto injury attorneys is ready to support you through this challenging time. Remember, taking timely legal action can make all the difference in your case. Stay safe and drive responsibly, but know that help is available when you need it.

Written By: Ryan Swapp     Legal Review By: Craig Swapp