The leading cause of fatal car accidents in Tennessee

Failure to maintain a lane is the leading cause of fatal car accidents in Tennessee and in many states across the country.

In August of this year, a 34-year-old Tennessee man was driving a pickup truck when he failed to stay in his lane. According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, his truck crossed the centerline and struck a Ford Focus head-on, sending the 66-year-old driver of that vehicle to the hospital and killing her 73-year-old passenger. The Tennessee Highway Patrol states that criminal charges against the pickup driver are pending.

According to a recent study, failing to maintain a lane is the leading cause of fatal accidents not only in Tennessee but also in dozens of states across the country. Drivers should be aware of the problems that will cause them to drift out of their lanes.

The study

The Auto Insurance Center used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatal Accident Reporting System to determine exactly what kind of driving behavior leads to the most fatal car crashes in each state. There were several behaviors considered, including the following:

  • Reckless driving
  • Failure to maintain lane
  • Failure to yield
  • Wrong-way driving
  • Improper turns

Overcorrecting and failure to adjust to either road conditions or obstructions were also considered. A driver's failure to stay in his or her lane was found to be the leading cause of fatal accidents in 29 states, including Tennessee.

What causes a driver to drift?

The Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security reports that so far this year, 111 accidents across the state have involved drivers who either run off the road or cannot stay in their lane. One of the most common causes of such behavior is tied to driving distracted. Someone who is engaging in a distraction - such as using a cellphone, eating or grooming - is not paying attention to the road and is at risk of losing lane control.

Another frequent reason that a driver drifts into another lane is due to alcohol intoxication. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration points out that law enforcement often look for drifting and weaving among lanes as a sign that a driver is intoxicated.

Lastly, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study last year that found that drowsy drivers are prone to drifting out of their lanes. One key finding of the study was that people who drive while sleepy are linked to 21 percent of fatal car accidents.

In Tennessee, the law permits victims of car accidents to hold the negligent party accountable for damages, whether the case involves property damage, serious injury or even death. In addition to filing a claim with an insurance company, a victim or his or her family can pursue a lawsuit to collect other damages. Anyone who has questions about these issues should contact an attorney.