Grimes & Fertitta, P.C.

Yet again, more than 40,000 people die in car accidents

In 2016, 2017 and 2018, more than 40,000 people passed away in car accidents. For three years running, the numbers have stayed very high and they show the significant risks that drivers and passengers face.

The total did fall in 2018, but only by 1%. It's clear that the roads are still a very dangerous place, despite advances in technology. Even a simple commute to work could be the most dangerous thing you do in 2019 and beyond.

If you're wondering about injuries and not just fatalities, the same study found that they dropped by an identical 1%. That still meant that about 4.5 million people got hurt in car accidents.

Why you feel safe

Car accidents are a bit of a contradiction. When you look at the statistics, it is clear that you face serious dangers. Tens of thousands of people think they'll make it through the year, every year, and then lose their lives. It's staggering. Every time you pull into traffic, you should be aware of that risk.

However, you're probably not. Most people rarely think about it. They feel safe. Why is this?

One big part of the equation is the illusion of control. You know that people die in accidents, but you trust yourself to drive safely. You think that you can beat those odds because you are in control of the car. Accidents happen to other people, you tell yourself, but you do not need to worry.

Here's the problem: Almost everyone feels that way. It's clearly not true, judging by the death toll. You can drive safely by obeying the speed limit, avoiding drunk driving, staying off your phone and much more. And you should do all of that. But you cannot know that you will not get into a serious accident.

After all, you do not control the drivers around you. That safe driving may get you to the intersection without issue, and you may legally turn left on a green arrow, but a driver coming through could run the red light and hit your car at a high rate of speed. Suddenly, you understand that you have very little control and that all of your safe driving cannot always prevent a wreck.

Your rights

Again, this isn't to say you should not focus on safety. You should. Do what you can to become a defensive driver and obey the law.

At the same time, though, just understand that accidents can and do happen to safe drivers. If you get injured or if a loved one passes away, you need to know what legal rights you have.

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