Alaska Accident Statistics
There were 84 fatalities from automobile crashes in Alaska in 2016. That number is up from 65 fatalities from auto crashes in 2015, 73 in 2014, 51 in 2013, and 59 in 2012. In 2014, there were 301 serious injuries resulting from auto crashes, a number which was down from 399 in 2013, 359 in 2012, 404 in 2011 and 463 in 2010. The number of minor injuries as a result of an auto crash in 2014 was 4,315. In 2013, that number was 4,525, 4,127 in 2012, 4,147 in 2011, and 4,566 in 2010. In 2016, the state of Alaska averaged 11.18 auto accident fatalities per 100,000 residents per year. About 38.30 percent of auto accident fatalities involved alcohol.
Fairbanks Accident Statistics
There were 6 fatalities from auto accidents in Fairbanks in 2017, with 7 fatalities from auto accidents in 2016. In each year, two of the fatalities from auto accidents were the result of an impaired driver. In 2017, there was one pedestrian killed in a Fairbanks auto accident, and in 2016, no pedestrians were killed.
Where are Most Fairbanks, Alaska Car Accidents?
The fatal accidents in Fairbanks in 2017 occurred at the following locations:
- Sr-3 Parks Hwy
- Van Horn and Peger Drive
- Davis Road
- Chena Hot Springs Road
The fatal accidents in Fairbanks in 2016 occurred at the following locations:
- Goldstream Road
- Sr-2 Richardson Highway
- East Cowles Street and 21st Avenue
- Johansen Expressway
- Chena Hot Springs Road
- Grange Hall Road
- Sr-6, Steese Highway
In 2018, two people died in a single-vehicle accident on the Steese Highway, and two people had serious injuries as a result of the accident.
Causes of Fairbanks, Alaska Car Accidents
Auto accidents happen, no matter where you live, although car accidents may be more likely to occur in areas like Fairbanks, which receive more snow and ice. Alaska also has one cause of auto accidents that few other states have—the highest rate of moose-vehicle collisions in the world! Hundreds of moose are struck and killed by motorists each year on Alaska’s roadways. Other large mammals, such as caribou, bear, and bison, are also involved in motorist accidents since the Alaska roads often cut through an animal’s home range or travel corridor. The situation is more serious in winter months when driver’s find it more difficult to see. The largest number of moose-vehicle collisions occur during the dark, snowy months of December, January, and February.
Distracted driving is a serious issue, not only in Alaska but in every state in the United States. Drivers are multi-tasking while driving, and these behaviors cause a significant number of auto accidents. Drivers routinely eat entire meals while driving, fiddle with car controls, set their GPS device, talk on the phone, text or read texts, post to social media, turn around to see what the children are up to, bend over to pick up toys or bottles, talk to passengers, or simply daydream when they should be paying attention to their driving. Alaska has the harshest distracted driving penalties of any state; texting while driving has been illegal in Alaska since 2012. Texting and driving is a Class A misdemeanor in the state of Alaska, carrying a fine of up to $10,000 and up to one year in prison. If the collision caused by texting results in injury, the charge becomes a Class C felony, with fines up to $50,000 and five years in prison.
Speeding is a leading cause of car accidents, greatly increasing the risk of death or injury for drivers and passengers. Speeding accounts for about 26 percent of all traffic fatalities while also playing a major role in serious injuries. In fact, across the nation in 2017, excess speed killed 9,717 people. Speeding can also make accidents worse when they do happen. The speed of the vehicle is directly related to injuries resulting from the crash.
Reckless driving includes such behaviors as excessive speed, drunk driving, running stop signs and red lights, aggressive driving, road rage, tailgating, excessive lane changing, drag racing with another car, impaired driving, or sudden braking. Any time a person drives a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property, they are engaging in reckless driving.
Running Red Lights
In 2015, two people died each day as a result of a driver running a red light in the U.S. An average of 719 people die each year in red-light running crashes, and the number of red-light running crash fatalities increased 7 percent from 2011 to 2015. Red light crashes often occur when a driver is coming up on a yellow light (or a light which just turned red), and, rather than stop, he or she increases speed, hoping to get through the light before traffic begins from the opposite direction.
Running Stop Signs
While drivers usually feel safe when approaching a stop sign, you are not safe when another person runs a stop sign. Thousands of car accidents each year are caused by drivers who run stop signs. The person who runs a stop sign is, of course, reckless, but is usually driven by impatience—the driver is in a hurry and wants to assume no other drivers are coming as he or she blows through the stop sign. Distracted driving is also a cause of running stop signs, but whatever the cause, the results can be disastrous.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs and Alcohol
In 2016, there were a total of 3,063 drivers in the state of Alaska who were arrested for impaired driving—916 of those were women, and the remainder were men. Alaska’s per capita drunk-driving related auto accident fatalities is one of the highest in the nation, despite the fact that the Alaska Legislature has enacted tough laws against driving under the influence.
Poor Weather Conditions Due to Ice and Snow
Snow, rain, sleet, and ice require drivers in the state of Alaska to be extra cautious, and while most people are, some drivers become so comfortable driving in bad conditions, they neglect to be extra-cautious. As the winter season progresses, drivers may begin tailgating, speeding, or forgetting to slow down as they approach intersections.
Falling Asleep at the Wheel
About half of all adult drivers in the United States admit to consistently getting behind the wheel even though they are drowsy or fatigued. A full 20 percent of adult drivers admit to falling asleep behind the wheel at some point in the past year, with more than 40 percent of adult drivers admitting they have fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point over the past year. Drivers may not realize just how dangerous drowsy driving really is, however, an estimated 5,000 people died in 2015 crashes involving a fatigued or sleepy driver. In fact, driving while fatigued is very similar to driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Driving after going for more than 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a BAC of .08 percent, and drivers who drive while fatigued are three times as likely to be involved in a car accident as drivers who are well-rested.
Driving at Night
Night driving can be a serious cause of auto accidents; according to the National Safety Council, those who are older have a particularly difficult time seeing at night. A 50-year-old driver may need twice as much light to see as well as a 30-year-old. At age 60 and older, driving becomes even more difficult at night, as many older drivers can have compromised vision due to degenerative eye diseases. Young or old, night collisions can happen to any driver when he or she fails to see another car or is temporarily blinded by car lights.
Common Types of Car Accidents
There are many different causes of car accidents and many types of car accidents. The most common types of car accidents include:
Rollover accidents are responsible for more than a third of all vehicle-related fatalities in the United States. As many as 75 percent of those who die in a rollover accident are not wearing a seat belt, therefore, are ejected from the vehicle as it flips over. Rollover claims can be very complex, as driver error, as well as other factors, can cause a rollover accident. Most rollover accidents happen in an SUV, or a fifteen-passenger van as both these types of vehicles have a high center of gravity, making them very top-heavy.
Some automobile accidents involve only one vehicle. These one-car accidents can occur when a driver hits an animal crossing the road, or when a driver slides off an icy or snowy road, hitting a fixed object, such as a tree. Drivers may also take a curve too fast, causing a single-car accident. The vast majority of single-car accidents involve driver error. If a single-car accident is the result of a roadway hazard, the driver must document the hazard by taking photographs. Intoxication is another cause of single-car accidents. Single-car accidents are common in Alaska, due to animals crossing the roads, snowy or icy roads, and impaired drivers.
Rear-end collisions occur when a vehicle in the back strikes a vehicle in front. Rear-end collisions are often caused by distraction, whether a driver is talking on the phone, texting, or is otherwise distracted. Rear-end collisions often result in whiplash injuries to those in the front car. When the front area of the rear car crashes into the front car, there is generally a powerful jolt, even at relatively low speeds. Rear-end collisions are usually the fault of the driver in back, although there are rare instances in which the front driver could be at fault. Snowy roads in Alaska can also be responsible for rear-end collisions when the car in the back does not leave sufficient space between it and the car in front.
Side-impact accidents are also known as T-bone crashes by virtue of the fact that when one vehicle hits another on the side, it resembles a “T.” The location of a side-impact automobile accident puts the driver and passengers at significant risk. The sides of cars generally have far fewer safety features than other parts of the car since few cars other than higher-end models have side-impact airbags. A front or back collision means there are several feet of metal and steel standing between a human being and the other car, but in a side collision, there is little more than a door frame stopping the other vehicle from impacting with a person. In fact, this area has been dubbed the “crumple zone” by experts who study car crashes. Most commonly, a side-impact car crash will occur in an intersection. Quite often, drivers see a yellow light and speed up in order to race through the stoplight. A driver who is traveling through a green light can be broadsided in a mere instant with absolutely no way to avoid the accident. Children are the most vulnerable passengers in a side-impact car collision—even more so should they not be restrained in an approved child safety seat.
While there are far fewer head-on collisions in the U.S. than other types of auto accidents, head-on collisions are definitely the deadliest types of auto accident. If there are survivors following a head-on collision, it is likely they will be injured severely, even catastrophically. Head-on collisions often happen at higher rates of speed, on highways and freeways. When two vehicles traveling 60 mph or faster collide, there will absolutely be significant physical damage. A lane departure by one of the vehicles is usually responsible for a head-on collision. Such a lane departure can be the result of an impaired driver, a distracted driver, or a fatigued driver who falls asleep at the wheel. Inclement weather conditions and drivers who pass in an unsafe manner can also cause head-on collisions.
Intersection accidents can be deadly when one vehicle is traveling at a high rate of speed and crashes into a vehicle properly crossing an intersection. Unfortunately, many drivers believe a yellow light means “speed up,” rather than stop. This can place them in an intersection on a solid red light, either hitting another driver or being hit by a driver traveling through the intersection on a green light. Other causes of intersection accidents are distracted drivers, fatigued drivers, and impaired drivers. An Alaskan intersection can be slick, making it more difficult to slow and come to a stop.
Concerns to Be Aware of During an Alaskan Winter to Avoid a Car Accident
In the state of Alaska, there can be particular concerns to be aware of during the wintertime, since the wintertime is much longer than in most areas. Some of those concerns include:
Accidents Involving Pedestrians in the Winter
Pedestrians and drivers need to be more aware of one another during winter weather. Snowy, icy weather can distract drivers and pedestrians alike, causing them not to see one another until it is too late. In some cases, snow can pile up on a sidewalk, making it virtually impassable, so a pedestrian may decide to walk on the street. This can lead to a serious pedestrian accident when the driver fails to see the pedestrian. Many pedestrian-vehicle accidents occur in intersections; a normal crosswalk can become more dangerous when dealing with winter weather since pedestrians may be unable to move as quickly in snow or ice or slippery conditions can make it difficult for vehicles to stop in time to avoid hitting a pedestrian. Snow and ice can decrease visibility for drivers, plus pedestrians who are bundled up may not have the same range of vision as normal.
Accidents in Snowmobiles
Alaska has more deaths and hospitalizations associated with snowmobiles than other states, due to the fact that snowmobiles are used more frequently than in other states. Ejection and drowning are the most common causes of death from a snowmobile accident, and few of those who are catastrophically or fatally injured in a snowmobile accident were wearing a helmet. Many snowmobile accidents occur in areas with no trails, or on a roadway designed for on-road vehicles, and the majority of snowmobile accidents occur at night when visibility is poor.
Car Accidents and Insurance
One of the first questions which may pop into your mind following a car accident is whether the at-fault driver has insurance. This is an important consideration, particularly when your injuries or the damages to your car are severe.
Car Accident with No Insurance
Should you find that the at-fault driver in your auto accident has no insurance, it is likely you will be facing an uphill battle to obtain compensation for your injuries and the damages to your vehicle. Although auto insurance is mandatory, about 15.4 percent of Alaska drivers are not insured, placing Alaska in the number 11 spot for states with the highest number of uninsured drivers. Many times, an uninsured driver may ask that you forgo calling the police because they fear getting into trouble for the lack of insurance. Always call the police, but in this situation, it is even more important if you want to ensure your expenses are covered.
Car Accidents and Insurance Claims
Following an auto accident, you will need to make a car insurance claim either to your insurance company or the at-fault driver’s insurance company. It is important to have a police report when you file a claim with your insurance company, as this report may indicate which driver was at fault, making it much easier for you to get the compensation you need and deserve. After calling the police and seeing to injuries, contact your own insurance company. They should walk you through the steps you need to take going forward. If the accident was your fault, you would contact your own insurance company. If the driver was uninsured and you carry uninsured motorist coverage, or if the accident was your fault, your insurance company will assign an adjuster to work with you. This adjuster will investigate the accident and work on your behalf to get the claim settled as quickly as possible. Having an experienced personal injury attorney by your side following your car accident can make the entire process much simpler, allowing you time to heal from your injuries while a professional manages your claim, which can result in a greater net recovery to you.
What to Do After a Car Accident
Following your Fairbanks, Alaska car collision, you must do the following:
- Stop—never, ever leave the scene of an accident, even if the accident was minor;
- Protect the scene of the accident by setting up flares and putting your car’s flashers on;
- Contact the police, even if there are no serious injuries;
- Tell the police officer what happened without embellishment and without admitting fault;
- If you are medically able, take photographs of the scene of the accident and the vehicles involved;
- Exchange information with the other driver, including contact information and insurance information;
- Seek medical attention for any injuries, even if you think you are fine;
- Notify your insurance company;
- Keep careful records of information regarding your accident as well as all information pertaining to your injuries, and
- Consult a Fairbanks, Alaska personal injury attorney to ensure your rights and your future are properly protected.
How to Be a Defensive Driver & Avoid Car Accidents in Fairbanks, Alaska
Remember the following tips for being a defensive driver, and avoiding accidents:
- Adjust your speed, driving more slowly in winter weather to avoid sliding on slick surfaces.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly to avoid skids. Always remember it takes longer to slow down or stop on icy roads.
- Increase the distance between your car and the car in front of you.
- Be prepared—make sure your vehicle has been checked out before winter arrives.
- Check the weather before you venture out.
- Let others know before you get out in bad weather.
- Stay with your vehicle if you get stuck—it makes it easier for rescuers to locate you.
- Stay warm, making sure your vehicle has extra blankets, jackets, gloves, and a flashlight.
How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help You
If you are involved in a car accident in Fairbanks, Alaska, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as quickly as possible. Ringstad Law Office, P.C. is ready and willing to help you get through this difficult time. We can help you get your vehicle repaired and any other damages taken care of. We understand this is a difficult time for you. You may be injured so severely that you are unable to return to work, thus unable to pay your regular monthly expenses. One minute you are headed home from work, and in an instant, your life has changed, possibly forever.
We will ensure the at-fault driver is held responsible for your accident. We are highly skilled negotiators who will work hard to obtain the best settlement possible for your injuries and damages. If we cannot obtain an equitable settlement, we will not hesitate to go to trial and litigate your accident. Do not wait or hope you can handle the insurance company on your own. We want to help you get through this time, and we have the skills, experience, knowledge, and resources to do so. Contact Ringstad Law Office, P.C. today.