You risk getting into a car accident every time you get into a car. The more time you spend on the road, the more you expose yourself to this risk.
While it’s common to conjure up an image of a multi-vehicle accident when a car crash is mentioned, single-vehicle accidents can be fatal as well.
53 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths in 2018 occurred in single-vehicle crashes.
What’s the leading cause of single-vehicle accidents? And what can you do to better avoid them? Let’s take a look:
What is a single-vehicle accident?
As the name suggests, it’s an accident that only involves one car. There are many types of accidents that go under the umbrella of a single-vehicle accident.
Think about situations like running off the road, hitting an object along the side of the road (like a guardrail or a tree), colliding with fallen rocks or debris, losing control of the vehicle and rolling it, hitting an animal, etc.
How often do single-vehicle accidents happen?
Across the country, 53 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths in 2018 were because of single-vehicle crashes. Montana actually had the highest percentage of deaths due to single-vehicle crashes at 71 percent.
Research shows that drivers in pickups and SUVs are more likely than cars to be in fatal single-vehicle crashes, too.
Is the driver always at-fault?
Most single-vehicle accidents are caused by some kind of driver error. Even when another factor plays a role in the situation—such as poor weather conditions or an animal—it’s up to the driver to anticipate and avoid the hazards.
What to do after a single-vehicle accident
When you’re the only one involved in a crash, assess your passengers and your own injuries.
You should assess your safety. Is your vehicle out of travel lanes, away from oncoming traffic? If not, move it (if possible) or get out of the car and walk to a safer location. Don’t forget to turn on the hazard lights if you have them.
Call the police. Yes, you should do this even for a single-vehicle crash.
It’s important to have an official record of what happened. Before they arrive, take photos of the scene, write down the time the crash happened, the speed you were going, any hazardous road conditions or problems with your car that you observed.
Will my insurance cover a single-vehicle accident?
It all depends on what coverage you have on your car insurance policy.
Collision insurance covers the cost of replacing or repairing your car if you’re involved in an accident. And that includes single-vehicle accidents.
If you damage your car running over potholes, roll over on icy roads, hit a tree, fence, or utility pole, your collision insurance should cover you.
If injuries result from this crash, having Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance or MedPay will pay for your medical expenses.
However, since single-vehicle accidents are almost always considered an at-fault accidents, this will make your premiums go up if you file a claim.
What if I have comprehensive insurance?
Comprehensive insurance can come in handy as well in single-vehicle accidents.
If you hit an animal instead of swerving to avoid it, comprehensive insurance will cover the damage to your car.
But it’s important to note that if you swerve to avoid hitting the animal and hit a tree, collision insurance would cover the damage.
Just because I can file a claim, should I do it?
It’s always a good idea to file a claim when a car accident involves multiple cars. But it’s not always so black and white when it’s only your car involved.
Remember: you will have to pay your deductible when you file a claim. So if it’s minor damage and the cost to repair is less than your deductible, it’s probably not worth it to file a claim.
You’ll also have to factor in the fact that your premium will almost certainly increase after you file a claim.
It’s up to you to assess the severity of the damage and weigh the options of filing an insurance claim vs. paying out of pocket.
How do I avoid being in a single-vehicle accident?
Right off the bat, be aware of your driving habits. Any time you get behind the wheel, make sure you’re alert and cautious. Limit the distractions in your car so you can drive attentively.
When it comes to your cell phone use, you have to limit it to only emergency situations. Even then, you should only be using your phone after you’ve safely pulled over.
Despite popular belief, using hands-free technology doesn’t make you a safer driver. Using this tech can cause you to miss important audio and visual cues, too.
Accidents due to drowsy driving tend to happen on rural roads and highways at high speeds. So if you’re feeling tired, safely get off the road and take a rest. This is always better than pushing through to get to your destination.
It’s a natural reaction to want to swerve to miss an animal. But that can prove to be very dangerous. While nobody wants to hit an animal, serving is not the solution to the problem. It’s safer for the driver and passengers to hit the animal versus swerving into oncoming traffic, going into a ditch and rolling, or hitting a light.