According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), around 70% of fatal single-vehicle car accidents are ROR wrecks, meaning run-off-road. Over the weekend, 2 of these accidents happened right here in southern Missouri.
On Saturday evening, 17 year-old Jordan K. Farr was northbound on Morrisville Road when he ran off the roadway. According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, Farr's 2004 Mazda 6 struck a ditch, which caused the vehicle to flip and then overturn several times. Farr was taken to Citizens Memorial Hospital, but he was pronounced dead about an hour after the crash. He was not wearing a seat belt, according to the crash report.
Meanwhile, 3 people were injured (2 of them seriously) after a similar one-car accident in Douglas County. The driver in that accident - 21 year-old Ryan K. Swearingin - also ran off the road, and his 1999 Chevy S-10 also flipped over. Swearingin was ejected from the pickup and was one of the seriously injured occupants: he and his passenger, 17 year-old Shon Gossett, were flown to Cox South Hospital in Springfield. The pickup's other occupant, 15 year-old Misty David, suffered minor injuries and was also taken to Cox. No one in the truck was wearing a seatbelt.
On average, 1 in 5 car accidents are single-vehicle roadway crashes: Forbes.com reports that this kind of accident is even more dangerous than a head-on collision or a T-bone crash. A 2011 report from NHTSA's National Center for Statistics and Analysis presented the following data:
• In single-vehicle ROR crashes, the most prevalent causal factor was driver performance error (27.7%).
• The other common causes for these accidents are also directly linked to driver behaviors: 25.4% were caused by driver decision errors; 22.5% were caused by critical nonperformance errors; and 19.8% were caused by driver recognition errors.
• So, what causes drivers to make these mistakes? In single-vehicle ROR crashes involving passenger vehicles, NHTSA reports that 14.3% were caused by internal distraction; 13.6% were caused by overcompensation (or overcorrection); 12% were caused by poor directional control; 10.5% were caused by speed (traveling "too fast for curve"); and 9.8% were caused by drivers falling asleep.
NHTSA's report explains that single-vehicle ROR wrecks are among the most dangerous because of their typical outcomes. After a vehicle runs off the road, it often "collides with a tree, a pole, [or] other natural or artificial object" or "overturns on non-traversable terrain" (or a combination of both). In fact, the Missouri Highway Patrol has observed a sharp spike in these accidents this year - and, even more alarming, that the majority of Missourians killed in these crashes were not wearing their seatbelts.
How Can I Avoid a Single-Vehicle ROR Accident?
Forbes offers the following advice:
• Don't drink and drive. If you're drinking and driving, you're also doubling your chances of being involved in a single-vehicle ROR crash.
• Observe the speed limit - especially in bad weather. If you're speeding, your odds of an ROR crash are 1.64 times higher than if you were going the speed limit. When you add poor weather to the equation, speeding drivers are 2.66 times more likely to run off the road than drivers traveling the speed limit in good weather.
• Be well rested. Drowsy drivers are 3 times more likely to run off the road than alert drivers.
• Consider which route is the safest path to your destination. More single-vehicle ROR crashes occur on curvy roads than straight roadways - and more of these crashes happen on rural roads than urban roads.
• Pay attention - and wear your seat belt. Drivers who are distracted (by cell phone use, passengers, food, music, etc.) are 75.4% more likely to cause a fatal single-vehicle ROR wreck. And of course, choosing to wear a seat belt can literally mean the difference between life and death.