This upcoming weekend marks the beginning of the 2014 NFL football season, and while this is certainly an exciting time for millions of Americans nationwide, it is important to be aware of the increased risks that may arise for those heading to the stadium to cheer their team to victory.
For residents from the Richmond area heading up I-95, or those from Loudoun County and Winchester driving in on I-66, it is important to be aware that game day traffic actually elevates the risk of having an auto accident.
Before you jump into your car and cruise down the highway roaring, “Hail to the Redskins!” there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Traffic in cities with NFL stadiums tends to slow down to around 30% less than normal speed on game days. Eight of the 10 professional football stadiums with the greatest game-time traffic delays are based on the East Coast, and as you may have guessed, the Washington, DC region shows the worst impact of any NFL city, with a 50% reduction in normal speeds. The Washington Post estimates that a game day trip from Warren County or Clarke County will take twice as long as it should, and traveling from Chesterfield or Prince George Counties could well encounter similar delays.
The main problem with all this traffic, besides the possibility of missing kick-off, is that it leads to an increased risk of being involved in an accident. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles releases data regarding crashes within the state in an online pamphlet called Crash Facts. The most recent statistics show that “following too closely, failure to yield, and improper lane change” are the three violations that lead to the most accidents. These three violations are among the most common types of dangerous driving habits that tend to increase when drivers become stressed in traffic. To avoid accidents and keep your passengers safe from injury, we recommend being extra vigilant in traffic, keeping a safe following distance, changing lanes with caution, and yielding to others – even those aggressive drivers who always appear in a traffic jam. Whenever possible, avoid the traffic by getting to games early and staying late! The earlier you leave before the game and the later you leave afterwards, the less traffic you are likely to experience.
In the event that you are involved in an accident, there certain steps to take to ensure that you will be fully compensated for any harm you suffer:
• Call the police – The police will ensure that both drivers’ information is recorded and will attempt to construct an accurate list of facts regarding the accident.
• Take pictures – Be sure to capture multiple images of any damage to the car or anyone hurt in the vehicle.
• Report any injuries you suspect at the scene of the accident, the longer you wait to report an injury, the harder it will be to show that it was caused by the accident.
• If you suffered injuries during the accident, call Emergency Medical Services and allow them to drive you to a hospital via an ambulance. (Since you are traveling, the EMS team will likely have a better idea of how to reach the closest hospital).
• You have two years from the date of an automobile accident to file a lawsuit, but waiting too long may make it a difficult case for an attorney to handle.