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How do stopped or disabled vehicles contribute to crash risks?

On Behalf of | Aug 20, 2021 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Most significant motor vehicle collisions involve two or more vehicles in motion. Sometimes, a driver doesn’t slow down fast enough and rear-ends the vehicle in front of them. Other times, it is a mistaken assumption about someone’s intention at an intersection that leads to a crash.

Many drivers think that moving vehicles are the only real safety concern on modern roads. However, research shows this not to be true. Although the occupants of a vehicle likely don’t have much injury risk if they get into a collision with a pedestrian or a bicyclist, a disabled or stopped vehicle is a completely different matter.

According to a report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), stopped or disabled vehicles play a role in thousands of crashes each year. The IIHS estimates that roughly 566 people die and another 14,371 suffer injuries in crashes involving a stopped or disabled vehicle. The total cost of those crashes each year is approximately $8.8 billion. Why do so many crashes involve stopped vehicles?

People aren’t on the lookout for stationery items when they drive

If you scan the road around you, your eyes and brain have to work together to analyze a lot of information and focus on what is integral to your safety. Stationery items will seem like less of a risk and will, therefore, have a harder time drawing your attention while you drive.

When you approach a stopped vehicle, the lack of attention that it commands might mean that you don’t drop your speed enough or that you get too close to it, possibly causing a crash. This risk is substantially higher if the stopped vehicle is in a location with high levels of traffic, high rates of speed or low visibility.

How can people address the risk of a crash with a disabled vehicle?

Recognizing the danger of a stopped vehicle on the roadway is the first step toward protecting yourself and other occupants of your vehicle. Being particularly cautious in low visibility areas, like right when you crest a hill or come around a curve, can also help.

Putting pressure on vehicle manufacturers to address these crashes could reduce them in the future. Brighter emergency flashers on the rear of a vehicle might draw people’s attention and help them avoid a collision. Finally, better practices by delivery drivers could also help, as they often step away from their large vehicles in the most inconvenient and unsafe places due to the proximity to where they must make a delivery.

Understanding that you could get into a serious car crash with a stopped vehicle could help you avoid this kind of collision.