Despite decades of public safety campaigns, drunk driving is on the rise. According to recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the most recent data shows nearly 14,000 people lost their lives to drunk driving in the last data year, a nearly 15% increase over the prior year. Drunk driving accidents account for almost 1/3 of all traffic related deaths.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the fatality rate for US highways has also increased 22% since the pandemic. In addition to an increase in drunk driving as referenced above, we have written a number of blog posts about the increase in speeding, running red lights, reckless driving, etc. since the pandemic. Yet while traffic violations are up, enforcement is down. Enforcement fell sharply during the pandemic and it has rebounded somewhat but, according to a recent study, the number of citations issued by law enforcement remains 13% lower than it was before the pandemic.
Finally, according to a new report, Nashville and Memphis were ranked the worst pedestrian cities in the country. Memphis was the absolute worst and Nashville was second worst of all major U.S. metro areas.
While there is plenty of work for police and governments to do in order to bring these statistics down, as drivers, we all need to practice safer driving. The basics are still incredibly effective. Don’t drink and drive. Slow down. Avoid distractions while driving. Obey traffic signals. Keep a lookout for pedestrians. Of course, even if you are doing everything correct, you can still be injured in a car, truck, bicycle or pedestrian accident. So, there is one critical thing you can do to help protect yourself and your family.
When you finish reading this article, go find your auto or motorcycle insurance policy. (If you can’t find it, call your agent to get a copy). Review the first page, which is often referred to as the declarations page, and see if you have purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This is often abbreviated as UM/UIM coverage. This coverage protects and pays you if you are injured by either an uninsured driver or someone who does not have enough insurance to compensate you for your injuries. If you don’t think you need this type of insurance, respectfully, you are wrong. 1 in 5 drivers in Tennessee do not have any insurance. Zero. On top of that, a large percentage of drivers only have the bare minimum of $25,000 per person. While that is better than nothing, consider that just the ride to the hospital in an ambulance is going to cost roughly $1200. If you are seriously injured and need a lot of medical care and are out of work with a long recovery period, $25,000 is simply insufficient.
Insurance agents are required to offer UM/UIM coverage but it is not required in order to have a driver’s license in Tennessee. Some insurance agents simply do not explain this type of coverage to their clients. Yet, this insurance is critical for your own protection. Almost daily, we receive calls from people who are seriously injured by people with no insurance or just the bare minimum. Their case is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars yet there is no insurance to compensate them and the person who caused the accident does not have any assets either. In those situations, we cannot help. Nobody can. They have a case but there is no remedy. Don’t let this happen to you.
One last thing about UM/UIM coverage: it can protect you if you are injured as a bicyclist or a pedestrian. So go check your coverage. If you don’t have it, call your agent and have him or her quote it. We think you will be surprised at how affordable it is given its importance.
As always, we are here if you need us. Our award-winning lawyers handle all accident cases on a contingency basis, so we only get paid if we win and we are happy to answer any questions you have about your injury case in a free, no-obligation consultation.