How You Can Avoid the Top Three DC Car Crashes Causes

Written By Larry Bodine, Publisher of The National Trial Lawyers

To avoid death or injury in a car crash in Washington, DC, there are three key things to avoid:

  • Stay away from the intersection of 14th and U streets, NW;
  • Beware of rush hour from 3-6 p.m. – especially on Fridays;
  • And don’t give into using smart phones and other distractions while behind the wheel.

These are the most dangerous times, places, and incidents regarding auto accidents in the District, according to a new report by Howard University. The report is based on the work Howard researchers, working for the District’s Department of Transportation, who analyzed traffic accident data from 2010 through 2012.

In addition to 14th and U streets, the Howard University study notes heavily-traveled New York Avenue is also especially dangerous, with 226 crashes at the intersection of Bladensburg Road NE. Six other intersections on New York Avenue in the Langdon neighborhood in Northeast and NoMa accounted for 934 crashes.

Car crashes are on the rise – there were 18,428 in 2012. As a result of those crashes 7,268 people were injured and 19 people died. The collisions cost the motorists property damage, lost earnings, medical bills, time missed at work, pain, and a diminished quality of life.

One of the crashes involved Damian Danchenko, 37, who was riding a motorcycle in the 1900 block of Massachusetts Avenue NW around 7 p.m. on January 14, 2013. Meanwhile, Stanley Gagne was driving a Chevy truck owned by his employer, United Metro Golf Cart in Brandywine, MD. Gagne was not paying attention and ran a red light, crashing into the motorcyclist.

The collision threw Danchenko onto the roadway, where he suffered a deep cut to his left eye, a concussion, and injuries to his left shoulder, left knee, and lower leg. He also suffered fracture to both of his ankles and his right hand. The injury to his left ankle was catastrophic — he essentially lost all of his left ankle. Despite multiple surgeries, Danchenko will always walk with a limp and slow gait, and further surgeries may be necessary. He filed suit against the driver, who settled the case on July 9, 2014, for $1 million, the policy limit on his insurance. It was one of 273 motorcycle accidents reported in 2012.

DC Driving Moves that Cause Crashes

Among the most dangerous maneuvers were making left turns, backing up, and changing lanes. But almost half of the time, drivers who crashed their cars were driving straight ahead. The most common crashes involved side-swipes or rear-end crashes.

Head-on collisions were not common, but when they did occur they often resulted in injuries and deaths.

There were 919 crashes involving pedestrians, which is important to know because 50 percent of workers in the District of Columbia are either commuting by public transit or walking to work. Many must do both.

More people are opting to use their bicycles in DC, as well. As such,  bicyclists were involved in 642 crashes in 2012.

The easiest way to stay safe is to pay attention while driving. In all the crashes that were included in the study, driver inattention was the single most common contributing factor for all three years of data. Typical distractions included using a cell phone, texting, eating, putting on makeup, paying attention to pets or children, and even reading while driving.

Larry Bodine is a lawyer, journalist and marketer who speaks and writes frequently about law firm marketing. Currently he is the publisher of the National Trial Lawyers and is the former Editor in Chief of Readers can follow @Larrybodine on Twitter, on Google+ and on LinkedIn, where he moderates several law-related groups.