We have all been there. You’re driving late at night and the car in front of you keeps drifting into your lane. You use the horn, drive by, and give the other driver a dirty look. That is the best-case scenario for a lane or roadway departure incident. Quite often the inadvertent drifting results in a serious or fatal car crash.
The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that 42,915 people died in car crashes in 2021. Maryland in particular reported 475 fatal crashes resulting in 507 fatalities.
Half of all fatal car accidents in the US are caused by lane or roadway departure accidents. Between 2016 and 2018, 19,158 deaths were the result of a driver leaving their lane or crossing the centerline on a highway. Rollovers were the most harmful event in 14,256 of these fatalities according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
What are lane departure accidents?
A lane departure accident is also called a roadway departure accident. This type of car crash happens after a vehicle leaves its lane and veers into another lane or off the roadway. This may result in a:
- Head-on collision when a vehicle crosses into the opposing line of traffic
- Side swipe accident when a vehicle crosses into the next lane of drivers going in the same direction
- Single vehicle accident when the car runs off the road and crashes into a parked car, a tree, highway divider or some other standing object
What causes lane departure accidents?
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) suggests that most roadway departure accidents are caused by human error. Factors that may contribute to human error include:
- Speeding, especially around a curve or a steep hill
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; intoxication
- Distractions, such as cell phone use, or an animal darting onto the road
- Drowsiness or fatigue
- Poor nighttime visibility
How can I avoid lane departure accidents?
To avoid departing from your lane, stay alert, be attentive, drive responsibly, and keep up with maintenance on your vehicle.
If you find yourself veering off the road, do not jerk the wheel to get your car back on track. This could cause your vehicle to roll over, especially if you are driving at a high speed. AARP has a few tips to help you get back in your lane if you have swerved away:
- Stay calm – do not panic
- Slow down – ease off the gas pedal
- Slowly apply brakes
- Stop the vehicle, then try to get back on the road
Pay attention to how you feel when driving to prevent a tragedy due to a roadway departure on your part. Drowsiness is a common cause of lane weaving. Warning signs of drowsy driving include:
- Difficulty keeping head up and eyes open
- Significant yawning
- Driving too close to the car ahead of you
- Missing road signs, turns or exits
- Drifting into the shoulder, rumble strip, or barrier on a highway
If you notice any of the signs above, stop driving and take a 10-to-15-minute break, eat a snack, or have some coffee or another drink with caffeine, or ask one of your passengers to share driving responsibility with you if applicable.
What kinds of accidents are caused by lane departures?
According to the Accident Data Center, using data compiled from FHWA brochures:
- 30% of fatal road departure crashes include an overturned vehicle
- 43% of fatalities happen at a curve in the roadway
- 23% of fatal road-departure crashes involve the situation when one vehicle crosses a centerline or median and hits another vehicle
- 19% of fatal road-departure crashes involve a collision with trees or shrubs on the side of the traveled roadway
- 48% of fatalities in these crashes happen where the speed limit is 45 mph or less
These types of crashes can be deadly and can cause severe injury to the driver and passengers, including whiplash, concussion, soft tissue injuries, upper body injuries, broken legs and arms and numerous other conditions. Be safe – stay alert – stay in your lane!
If you have experienced an accident with injuries due to lane departure, having the right Maryland car accident attorney by your side can make all the difference. If you or a loved one are seeking compensation for your injuries, Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A can help. Call us today at 410-730-7737, or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We have offices throughout the state of Maryland and our initial consultation is free.