You can see them on Broad Street, Elm Street, Veterans Memorial Parkway and Interstate 85 – and on all other Commerce city streets. They are stopped or disabled vehicles.
Here’s why they’re stopped
Some of the vehicles simply have mechanical issues, while others have been stopped by Commerce police officers or deputies from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. And some have been disabled as a result of being involved in a motor vehicle crash.
There are often people moving in and around the vehicles, including drivers, passengers, tow truck drivers, police officers and medical responders.
Bigger problem than previously thought
Unfortunately, hundreds of these people are killed, and thousands more are injured each year in motor vehicle wrecks involving stopped or disabled vehicles. According to a study commissioned by a company that manufactures hazard lights, many of these crashes occur because other drivers approaching the scene weren’t alerted to the dangers posed by the halted vehicles.
An analysis of federal auto accident statistics determined 566 people were killed and another 14,371 people were injured in each year from 2016 through 2018 in crashes involving disabled vehicles in which limited visibility was an issue.
“This study identifies a part of the road safety equation that doesn’t get much attention, despite the size of the problem,” said David Zuby, chief research officer at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Moving vehicle strikes stationary
The study’s authors found that about 95 percent of these crashes involve a vehicle traveling on a roadway colliding with a stationary vehicle.
More than half of the fatalities and nearly 20 percent of serious injuries happen when a vehicle hits a pedestrian who is leaving, returning to or working on a stopped vehicle.
These pedestrian crashes kill 300 people per year – a grim number that has risen by more than 25 percent since 2014, the IIHS reported.
That increase is part of a larger trend in pedestrian fatalities. Two years ago, slightly more than 6,200 pedestrians were killed in the U.S., up from slightly more than 4,100 a decade earlier.
Bringing it home
A fact from a previous IIHS study jumps out for Commerce residents: about 800 pedestrians are struck and killed on U.S. interstates (and other freeways), with about 18 percent of them in or near a disabled vehicle.
If you have been injured in a vehicle crash of any type caused by a distracted, speeding or impaired driver, you can pursue full, fair compensation with the help of an attorney experienced in personal injury litigation.