How Do Lane Departure Accidents Happen?

Unsafe lane departures caused about 1,950 car accidents in Davidson County in 2017. According to national statistics, lane departures caused 53% of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. from 2014 to 2016. Lane departure accidents refer to collisions that occur after a vehicle leaves its lane, traveling either off the road or into another lane. These crashes can involve just one vehicle or multiple vehicles. Learning how most lane departure car accidents happen can help you prevent them in Tennessee.

Equipment Failures

Sometimes there is nothing a driver can do to avoid a lane departure accident. This might be the case if a piece of the vehicle’s equipment fails, resulting in loss of vehicle control. A tire blowout, for example, could cause a vehicle to swerve uncontrollably or fly off the road. These types of accidents could stem from poor vehicle maintenance by the owner or a defective/dangerous auto part. If it’s the former, the owner (e.g., a commercial trucking company) could be liable for the crash. A parts manufacturer could be liable for the latter.

Distracted Driving

A driver looking down at his/her phone, radio, or map is likely to drift between lanes without noticing. Distracted drivers aren’t looking at the road or focusing on the driving task. This leads to a high risk of accidental lane departures or tragedies such as veering off the road and onto a sidewalk or crosswalk. Distracted drivers may negligently merge on top of other people, drift out of their lanes, and overcorrect once they notice. They are also likely to cause rear-end collisions from failing to notice stopped vehicles.

Drowsy Driving

A driver dozing off behind the wheel is a common cause of lane departure accidents. Drowsy drivers may drift off the road and/or into other lanes without realizing it – until they either wake up and correct themselves or cause an accident. Drowsy drivers also have slower reaction times to changing roadway conditions, increasing the probability of being unable to correct their vehicles in time to avoid a collision.

Dozing off behind the wheel could also generate a knee-jerk reaction to something such as hitting rumble strips, causing the driver to overcorrect, yank the wheel, and crash. Overcorrecting a lane departure can be more dangerous than the departure itself. Jerking the wheel and slamming on the brakes could cause the vehicle to rollover, swerve into oncoming traffic, or cause a serious rear-end collision.

Drunk Driving

A drunk driver cannot safely control a motor vehicle. One of the greatest red flags of a drunk driver is the inability to stay within the lane. Drifting between lanes is common when a driver is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, as is running off the road and correcting. Driving drunk can cause blurred vision, slowed thoughts, confusion, speeding, and reckless driving behaviors. All of these could lead to a lane departure accident. Lane departure accidents from this act of recklessness will point to drunk driver liability for damages.

Medical Emergency

It’s possible that a driver is having a heart attack, stroke, or other medical emergency behind the wheel, causing the unsafe lane departure. Paramedics will be able to administer emergency medical care on the scene, while an investigation can determine if this is the case. If you notice someone driving erratically or slumped behind the wheel, keep your distance, and call 911.

Injured in a Lane Departure Accident?

If another driver negligently came into your lane and crashed your vehicle, talk to a lawyer. The odds are high that the other driver is at fault for the collision and therefore liable for your damages. You will need an investigation of the collision to find out if the other driver was drunk, drugged, drowsy, distracted, or otherwise at fault for the lane departure accident. If so, an insurance claim and/or personal injury lawsuit could reimburse your losses.