Across the center of the state of Alabama, Interstate 20 extends about 215 miles, entering the state from Mississippi, then traveling in a northeastern direction through Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. For more than half of its distance (from the Mississippi border to near the Birmingham International Airport), I-20 overlaps with I-59. Much of I-20/59 travels across delta country—low-lying Alabama farmlands.
Interstate 20/59 is a four lane from the Alabama-Mississippi state line to Tuscaloosa, where it briefly becomes a six-lane Interstate, before changing back to four lanes east of exit 73. When I-20/59 reaches I-459, it once more becomes a six-lane freeway, passing the Mercedes auto plant—a large employer of Jefferson residents. When I-20 turns away from I-59, it begins to travel eastward, toward Georgia, and is six-lane between exits 132 and 162.
Unfortunately, the section of I-20 between Leeds and Pell City has been dubbed by some to be the most dangerous stretch of interstate in Alabama, due to the hilly terrain, heavy volume of truck traffic, and speeding passenger vehicles. This section of I-20 is sometimes called the “Bloody 20.” Exit 158 of this portion of I-20 serves both the Honda Motor Company plant at Lincoln, and the Talladega Superspeedway. Interstate 20 was completed slowly, one section at a time. Alabama completed its part of I-20 during the late 70’s, but because Georgia had not completed its part, only six miles of the Interstate was opened at that time.
The primary purpose of Interstate 59 was to connect Chattanooga, Tennessee and other northern cities with New Orleans, via Birmingham. The route of I-59 runs parallel to U.S. Route 11, and is either four or more lanes along the entire route. Where I-59 joins I-20, just west of Meridian, the exit numbers are those of I-59 for the 145 miles.
Interstate Accidents Across the Nation
Interstates 20 and 59, including the portion where 20 and 59 merge together, are heavily-traveled Interstates. With the volume of traffic seen on most interstates, it is no wonder auto accidents occur. The most common causes of highway and interstate accidents include:
- Fatigued driving, particularly among long-distance truck drivers (the NHTSA estimates drowsy driving is responsible for about 100,000 auto collisions each year);
- Careless or reckless driving, including tailgating, changing lanes back and forth, and cutting other drivers off;
- Inclement weather, including fog, rain, wind, snow and ice;
- Night-time driving. Interstate drivers are much more likely to be driving at nighttime, meaning they not only have lowered visibility, they must contend with the many commercial vehicles which do much of their traveling at night, and
- Changing lanes unexpectedly to reach an exit in time.
The number of drivers on I-20/59 mean accidents are more likely to occur. Unfortunately, when a car collision occurs on an Interstate, more than two cars are likely to be involved.
Automobile Accidents on Alabama Interstates
More urban accidents on Interstates occurred in the state of Alabama than for those Interstates in rural areas (7,927 vs. 5,252). As a whole, about 12.5 percent of the auto accident fatalities in Alabama occurred on Interstates in 2014, and about 10 percent of the total number of the state’s auto accidents occurred on Interstates. Commercial truck accidents are even more likely to occur on an Alabama Interstate—27 percent of commercial truck accidents occurred on an Alabama Interstates in 2014. Since trucks typically travel on Interstates when possible, this statistic is not all that unusual.
Auto Accidents in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa Counties
Interstates 20/59 cross Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, into Chattanooga, Tennessee. In the city of Tuscaloosa, there were 4,587 auto accidents in 2013, with 8 fatalities and 1,135 injuries. In 2014, Tuscaloosa had 4,686 auto accidents, 10 fatalities and 1,132 injuries. In the city of Birmingham, there were 8,189 auto accidents in 2013 with 30 fatalities and 1,743 injuries, while in 2014, Birmingham’s auto accident rates had a sharp increase at 13,033 auto accidents, 31 fatalities and 2,931 injuries. The state of Alabama has a rate of 19 auto accidents per 100,000 residents, while the rate for the United States is 11.5 per 100,000 residents.
Getting Help Following Your Alabama Auto Accident
As an Alabama resident, you have likely been on Interstates 20/59 at one time or another, therefore know how busy these roadways are. Having an accident on an Interstate—or anywhere else—can be a traumatic experience. Not only are you left to deal with your injuries, you may be hit hard financially, especially if you are unable to return to work due to the extent of your injuries. It is important that you preserve your rights to compensation following your auto accident by doing the following:
- Thoroughly document the scene of your accident as quickly as possible. Obviously, you should ensure everyone who was injured received medical attention, however if your injuries are not life-threatening and you are able, snap photos of the accident scene and the vehicles with your cell phone. In many cases, these photos can be invaluable down the road in assisting your attorney in receiving just compensation for your injuries.
- If there were witnesses to your accident (and you are physically able) get as much information as possible from those witnesses, including contact information.
- Call the police. It is surprising how many people skip this step! Having police documentation of your accident is crucial in obtaining compensation for your injuries as police reports often include evidence of fault. Don’t let the other party in your accident convince you to skip this very important step.
- Once you have received medical attention, make a point of following your doctor’s orders to the letter. Perception plays a significant role in getting paid for your insurance claim, so make sure you don’t give the insurance company or the defendant’s attorney any reason to believe your injuries are not all that serious.
Even if you are professional and persistent in the submission of your accident claim, having an experienced personal injury attorney by your side can go a long way towards a more positive outcome, particularly if your injuries were severe and you are facing long-term medical care or extensive wage loss. Automobile claims can often be complex, particularly Interstate accidents, which may involve more than one automobile or a large commercial truck. The Alabama car accident attorneys at Martinson & Beason believe each of their clients deserve the very best representation available. We understand how stressful it can be to watch your medical expenses pile up, while you are unable to work and pay your regular day-to-day expenses. If you are facing an unsure future after your automobile accident, call Martinson & Beason today.