High-Speed Car Accident in Dayton due to Reckless Driving

Early Friday morning, at approximately 4:20 in the morning, Nevada Highway Patrol responded to an accident at the intersection of Fortune Drive and Highway 50 in Dayton, Nevada. A subsequent investigation found that a 2000 Audi S4 sedan was being driven west on Highway 50 at a high rate of speed. The driver, who was suspected of being impaired with drugs or alcohol (or possibly both), presumably lost control of the vehicle and drove into the center median. He struck a reflective sign and several marker posts before rotating across both westbound lanes. The impact was so great that the rear portion of the vehicle was left wrapped around a utility pole, and the front portion was completely separated from the rest of the car’s body. [1]

As one might guess, the crash was devastating to those involved. There were two individuals in the car at the time of the accident, and both were ejected from the vehicle on impact. Juan Jesus Orozo, age 28, was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident and was killed in the collision. His passenger was transported via helicopter to Renown Medical Center. His injuries were considered life-threatening, and he remains in critical condition. [2]

While the driver of the vehicle in this incident was suspected to be impaired at the time of the crash, the severity of the crash was due principally to the high rate of speed at which the car was moving. Speeding is one of the most common contributing factors to traffic crashes in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)  considers a crash to be related to speeding if the driver was charged with speeding of if an officer indicated that the driver was exceeding the speed limit, racing, or driving too fast for current weather or traffic conditions. Speeding is a contributing factor in many crashes, because it increases the distance necessary to stop a vehicle, reduces the time during which a driver has to react before colliding with an object, and reduces a driver’s ability to steer safely around curves and react to objects in the road. [3] In addition, speeding affects not only the safety of the driver and his or her passengers, but it can also create risks for other drivers and pedestrians.

According to the NHTSA, speeding contributes to approximately 30 percent of all fatal crashes each year, claiming over 10,000 lives. In 2017, speeding accounted for more than one-quarter of all traffic fatalities. [4] The cost of these crashes to society is estimated to be approximately $40 billion each year, or over $1,000 per second. The demographic most likely to be found driving about the speed limit is young males, and older individuals are progressively less likely to speed. [5]

There are many reasons that people drive aggressively, and many of them seem reasonable in the moment. People often drive quickly when they are running late, thinking that a few extra miles per hour will get them to their appointment on time. (They fail to consider that going 10 or even 20 miles per hour faster will not make a significant difference for a trip of just a few miles, which is often the circumstance under which speeding occurs). The anonymity of a vehicle contributes to speeding as well – if no one knows who you are behind the windshield, there is no public shame or accountability for anti-social behaviors such as driving irresponsibly. Traffic congestion frequently contributes to aggressive driving behaviors such as speeding, changing lanes aggressively, or reacting with “road rage” to the choices of other drivers. Some people speed because they simply have little regard for others or the rule of law. [6]

If you encounter an aggressive or reckless driver on the road, there are some simple steps that you can take to keep yourself and those around you safe. If you notice a speeding vehicle, be sure to give it plenty of space on the road – do not try to obstruct the vehicle’s path to slow it down. (This kind of vigilantism is common but does little to deter unsafe driving and just increases the risk of an accidental crash or a “road rage” incident). If the speeder loses control of his or her vehicle, you want to make sure that you aren’t in the way. If you are in the left (fast) lane and someone wants to pass you, allow them to do so. Don’t allow yourself to be caught up in the antics of an aggressive driver as too many auto accidents result from avoidable confrontation. If someone is driving close behind you or trying to race, safely steer yourself away from the situation and put space between yourself and the irresponsible driver. If you believe someone is trying to follow or harass you, call the police to get help. [7]

If, despite taking these precautions, you are hit or injured by a speeding driver, stay calm and move out of the way of oncoming traffic. Do your best to keep the driver at the scene. Even if you think you are unharmed by a minor crash, you may find that serious injuries will surface later, once the adrenaline has worn off. Do your best to gather as much information as you can, including photographs of the driver’s car, license and plate. Call the police, even if you believe you are not injured and the other driver is cooperating. When the police arrive, speak up and make sure you clearly communicate the circumstances surrounding the incident. Seek medical attention as soon as possible, and have your doctor document your injuries as well. Finally, file an insurance claim and contact a personal injury attorney to make sure you understand your rights as an injured party. [8]

[1] https://www.rgj.com/story/news/local/leader-courier/2019/02/01/south-lake-tahoe-man-killed-dayton-ac…

[2] https://www.rgj.com/story/news/2019/02/01/nhp-releases-details-fatal-highway-50-crash-dayton/2748593…

[3] https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/810998

[4] https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/speeding

[5] https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/810998

[6] https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/speeding

[7] https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/speeding

[8] https://www.citylab.com/life/2015/05/what-to-do-when-youre-hit-by-a-car/393809

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