With moderate weather for hiking, a lessening of the crowds at popular tourist attractions, and the vivid autumn colors with red cliffs in the background, fall is an excellent time to visit Utah. Unfortunately, hundreds of visitors and residents are injured or killed on the state’s roadways each year as a result of unexpected hazards.
While some hazards are truly unpredictable, many are due to someone else’s negligence. If you have been injured in an accident that was not your fault, reach out to a car accident lawyer to learn your options for compensation.
Four Common Hazards to Look Out For in Utah This Fall
While speeding, alcohol impairment, and distractions remain three of the most common causes of car accidents, here are some additional hazards to look out for when traveling on the roads of Utah.
Loads That Haven’t Been Secured
Around 76 times a day, the Utah Department of Public Safety notes, state troopers are called to remove debris and other hazards in the roadway in order to prevent accidents. Many of these hazards are the result of drivers who have failed to properly secure their load by tying down objects they’re transporting with rope, netting, or straps, covering the entire load with tarp or netting, and keeping their vehicle well maintained and adequately prepared to transport their load.
The department further warns drivers to ensure that they allow a safe following distance between other vehicles and scan the roadway for hazards at least 12-15 seconds up the road from them in order to spot and avoid debris that has fallen from other vehicles.
Throughout the U.S., more than 200,000 accidents a year are caused as a result of unsecured loads. These unsecured loads cause other drivers to have to dodge flying debris, resulting in objects landing on other drivers’ windshield and obstructing their view while driving, or leaving debris on the roadway that can be struck by a vehicle. Some of the most common types of road debris to result in accidents include parts that have fallen from poorly maintained vehicles, furniture or appliances that have fallen off of a vehicle, and trailers that have separated from the vehicle.
Animals on the Road
Due to seasonal migration and mating season, large animals, including deer, moose, and elk are on the roadway more frequently in fall. The Utah Department of Public Safety recommends drivers take the following actions in order to avoid colliding with wildlife:
- Drivers should be particularly careful during the hours of dawn and dusk, when animals are likely to feed along roadways and visibility is reduced. Motorcyclists should be particularly cautious about riding during this time.
- Scan both sides of the road. Passengers can also assist in the task of looking for wildlife. Be particularly aware when driving through agricultural, wooded, or wetland areas.
- If able to do so, use high beams in order to provide more light on the roadway. Look for the animal’s eyes, which will reflect the headlights and shine on the roadway.
- Remember that these animals tend to travel in groups. If you have had to stop or slow for one, there is a good chance more are nearby.
Utah’s roadways see more than 2,000 crashes involving motor vehicles and wildlife each year as well as hundreds of accidents involving motor vehicles and domestic animals.
Drivers between the ages of 15-19 are involved in nearly a quarter of all car accidents in Utah’s roadways. In order to reduce the number of collisions involving teenage drivers, Utah has a graduated licensing program that places driving restrictions on newly-licensed teen drivers in order for them to gain additional driving experience before being permitted to drive with other teens in their vehicle or during the nighttime hours.
Immaturity, lack of experience, and lack of skills are often the main causes of accidents involving teen drivers. Young male drivers, in particular, are more likely to speed and engage in other risky driving habits when they have another teen in the vehicle with them. Teens are also commonly distracted by texting and other cell phone use, passengers in their car, or even other teens in cars on the roadway.
In spite of graduated license restrictions of nighttime driving for teens, most accidents involving young drivers do happen during the hours of darkness, on weekend nights. The risk of a teen driver being involved in a crash increases significantly with each young passenger they have in the vehicle.
A big part of Utah is rural. Long, winding rural roadways are the most common location for crashes involving drowsy drivers. Those at most risk of driving while drowsy include night shift workers and long-haul truck drivers. However, young drivers are also particularly vulnerable to this type of crash as many teens are unable to secure adequate sleep time between school, extra-curricular events, part-time jobs, and other activities.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the federal agency that oversees the U.S. trucking industry, around 13 percent of all truck drivers involved in motor vehicle accidents are fatigued at the time of the crash. Utah is a major player in the trucking industry, providing access to and from the ports on the west coast, and drivers on interstates in Utah can expect to see commercial truck traffic at any time during the day or night.
Reach Out to a Car Accident Lawyer if You Are Injured in an Accident
You can’t prevent animals from crossing the roadway, but you can look out for them. Likewise, you can’t make every other driver on the roadway exercise the care necessary to prevent auto accidents. However, if you’ve been injured in an accident in Utah that was caused by another driver’s negligence, you can seek compensation for the monetary and emotional costs of your injury through the personal injury claims process.
Personal injury claims can be overwhelming for those without education or experience in the law. A car accident attorney from Feller & Wendt can bring experience to your side, providing a number of services to assist you in navigating the claims process. With 30 years combined experience, a winning record in the courtroom, and a focus on providing personal attention to every case, we work tirelessly in order for our clients to get the compensation they need. Contact us online or call (801) 499-5060 for a free case evaluation.