To fully understand the dangers of driving on Oklahoma highways, you need only review the data gathered by statewide law enforcement and reported annually by the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.
As populations grow, state highways become more congested. That means more cars, more drivers, and more opportunities for you to be involved in a collision.
While the dangers are many, preparation, attention to surrounding traffic conditions, adherence to traffic laws and common courtesy will go a long way in helping you avoid being involved in s serious accident on the highways.
According to the latest statistics (2015), the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office indicates that 199 collisions per day were reported statewide, up from 187 collisions per day reported in 2014. That is a 6.42% increase.
• Total Reported: 68,237 (2014) 72,503 (2015) +6.11%
• Total Injuries: 33,405 (2014) 34,477 (2015) +3.21%
• Total Fatalities: 669 (2014) 645 (2015) -3.59%
• Total No-Injury Collisions: 45,065 (2014) 48,460 (2015) +7.53%
While total fatalities decreased, total injuries increased by almost as much. Based on this data, 47.55% of the total reported collision resulted in injuries sustained by drivers or passengers.
Translation: Nearly one-half of all traffic collisions statewide result in someone being injured.
Major Causes of Collisions
Distracted Driver – Electronic Device
In 2015, 11 of the fatal incidents, 694 of the injury incidents, and 1,020 of the non-injury incidents were caused by distracted drivers using an electronic device.
For reporting purposes, Oklahoma officers select from two categories:
• Communications device (phone, pager, 2-way radio, etc.)
• Other device (palm pilot, navigation system, iPods, touch-screen in-board devices, etc.)
Drivers under the age of 25 accounted for 707 of this type incident, by far the highest per age group.
Distracted Driver – Other than Electronic Device
Officers reported 6,225 total such incidents statewide in 2015. Of those 2,095, or slightly more than one-third, involved drivers less than 25 years of age.
Law enforcement considers other than electronic device distraction to include:
• Other Inside Vehicle (child, pet, passengers, eating, smoking, reaching, adjusting, etc.)
• Other Outside Vehicle (another accident scene, sights, road crews, police cars, etc.)
Taking your eyes off the road ahead for any reason can result in a traffic collision. It is not uncommon for drivers to cause fresh accidents by focusing on existing ones.
Oklahoma law enforcement officers can report drowsy drivers in one of two ways:
• Very tired
Drowsy drivers in 2015 accounted for 14 fatal incidents, 539 injury incidents, and 687 non-injury incidents. Drivers under 25 years of age claimed 462 of those, once again the highest per age group.
There are two categories for speed related traffic incidents:
• Unsafe Speeding (traveling faster than the posted limit)
• Unsafe Speeds for Conditions (traveling too fast to react due to weather, etc.)
A total of 9908 unsafe speed collisions were reported in 2015.
Of the 590 fatal incidents in 2015, 161 (27.3%) were alcohol/drug-related.
Of the 645 total traffic fatalities for the year, 188 (29.1%) involved some degree of alcohol.
The fatalities were comprised of:
• 134 drivers
• 48 passengers
• 5 pedestrians
• 1 bicyclist
Seatbelt restraints were not used in 68.3% of all alcohol/drug-related fatalities for 2015
Holidays, Collisions, and Fatalities
Holidays are notorious for higher than usual traffic collisions and deaths as millions of additional people flood the roadways heading to holiday vacation spots or to visit distant friends and family. More vehicles mean more danger on the highways.
• Christmas 06 deaths, 352 injuries, 787 total collisions
• July 4th 12 deaths, 330 injuries, 581 total collisions
• St. Patrick’s 12 deaths, 451 injuries, 894 total collisions
• Thanksgiving 10 deaths, 400 injuries, 904 total collisions
• Labor Day 09 deaths, 308 injuries, 529 total collisions
• Memorial Day 08 deaths, 235 injuries, 523 total collisions
• New Year’s Day – Not reported by OHSO website
Five Ways to Avoid Serious Accidents on Oklahoma Highways
When you grip the steering wheel of a moving vehicle, you are taking your life in your hands, as well as the lives of your passengers and other motorists.
Here are things you can do to improve your chances of avoiding a collision, injury, and death:
1. Concentrate Like Your Life Depends On it…because it does!
• Don’t drive intoxicated or “buzzed,” your safety risk is increased exponentially.
• Don’t drive drowsy or tired, your focus will be greatly diminished.
• No Multitasking. Concentrate fully on the task at hand, namely, driving.
2. Expect the Unexpected
• Plan your trip. Give yourself plenty of drive time. Expect delays.
• Plan your route. Have a contingency route in case of a problem.
• Keep a sharp, 360-degree lookout. Expect others to drive erratically.
• Don’t tailgate: Stay 4-5 seconds behind the car in front of you.
3. Don’t Engage in Distracted Driving
• Don’t let other drivers control your emotions. You expected this. Let it go.
• Don’t rubberneck. Many people who gawk at existing collisions end up in new ones.
• Don’t fidget with vehicle controls or go digging into your purse/bag.
• Don’t use electronic devices. If you must call/text, pull over to a safe stop.
• Don’t shave, apply makeup, brush hair, brush teeth, or eat while driving.
• Don’t slow down to video or live stream an accident or other curiosity.
4. Obey the Laws
• Traffic laws are designed to make the highways safe for all. Heed them.
• Drive at safe speeds based on posted limits and road conditions, weather, etc.
• Use designated lanes, and signal a lane change well in advance.
• Yield to emergency vehicles
5. Use Common Sense/Common Courtesy
• Secure your gear, luggage, pet, etc. Falling/sliding objects cause a distraction.
• Have essentials close at hand. Avoid reaching about for tolls, sunglasses, etc.
• It is not a competition. Don’t try to block other vehicles from getting ahead.
• Do the courteous thing, even when others fail at it, for the safety of all.
If you are someone you love has been injured in an Oklahoma highway collision, please call Tracy Tiernan now to protect your rights.