In 1997, Interstate 65 was originally designated as Hank Williams’ Memorial “Lost Highway” after one of his songs. This designation went north to mile 179 of Montgomery. I-65 widens to six lanes between exits 242 to 290. After President Ronald Reagan died in 2004, a lengthy portion of I-65, from Jefferson to Limestone County was designated as Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway.
Linking six of Alabama’s ten largest cities, I-65 wanders through 367 miles of Alabama countryside. Interstate 65 begins near Mobile at I-10, then passes through Montgomery, Birmingham and Decatur before entering Tennessee. A portion of Interstate 65 is known as Heroes Highway in honor of those who died on 9/11. At the north edge of downtown Birmingham, I-65 intersects I-20/I-59 via a crossover exchange known as “Malfunction Junction” because of the many auto accidents in the area. In fact, on two separate occasions, the support beams of the crossover exchange actually melted, after an 18-wheeler crashed and burst into flames.
As I-65 goes north of Birmingham, it meanders in the general direction of Huntsville, connecting the metropolitan areas of Decatur and Huntsville as it crosses Wheeler Lake. On the edge of Decatur, I-65 intersects with spur route I-565 to Huntsville. A proposal is in the works to widen I-65 from North Birmingham to Alabaster.
Alabama’s Commerce Transported Across the State’s Interstates
Because of its length, those who travel through the state of Alabama may eventually find themselves on I-65, and may find themselves sharing the roadways with many large, commercial trucks. Alabama’s growing economy has increased the numbers of large trucks on the Interstates; some of the state’s industries (which require truck transport) include iron and steel products, electronics, plastic, paper, lumber, cotton, poultry, eggs, cattle and peanuts.
Since 30 percent of traffic fatalities involve a large commercial truck driving on an interstate, and 28.4 percent of the total number of traffic accidents involving a large commercial truck on an interstate, you can see this is a distinct hazard for other drivers. The majority of these commercial truck-involved accidents involve lane-changes. Whether the driver of the truck could not see the passenger vehicle because of blind spots, or because the truck driver was overly-fatigued or distracted, the results can be tragic.
Passenger Vehicle Accidents Across Alabama
There were more than 13,000 car collisions on Interstates across the state of Alabama in 2014. More of these collisions occurred in urban areas (7,927) than in rural areas (5,252). As a whole, about ten percent of the car collisions which occurred in Alabama happened on Interstates, although a higher percentage of auto accident fatalities (12.5 percent) occurred on Interstates.
Auto Accident Statistics for Montgomery, Birmingham and Mobile
Interstate 65 primarily travels through Montgomery, Jefferson and Mobile Counties in the state of Alabama. The city of Montgomery, in Montgomery County, Alabama reported 8,411 auto accidents in 2012 and 8,628 in 2013. Of those motor vehicle accidents, 31 resulted in a fatality in 2012 and 32 in 2013. There were 2,645 injuries resulting from these crashes in 2012, and 2,811 in 2013. The city of Birmingham, in Jefferson County reported 10,532 auto accidents in 2012 with 46 fatalities and 2,484 injuries; in 2013 there were 8,189 auto accidents with 30 fatalities and 1,743 injuries. The city of Mobile, in Mobile County, reported 9,739 auto accidents in 2012 and 9,943 in 2013. There were 29 fatalities from those accidents in 2012, and 28 in 2013, with 2,130 injuries resulting from these auto accidents in 2012, and 2,261 in 2013. Alabama has the seventh highest fatality rate for auto accidents as compared to other states across the nation.
Avoid Becoming an Alabama Auto Accident Statistic
While the above facts can be alarming, there are many ways you can avoid becoming a statistic, including the following:
- Always buckle up, even if you are just going a few blocks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seat belt usage can reduce car accident injury and death rates by 50 percent. Adults between the ages of 18 and 34 are less likely to buckle up than those who are older, and men are about 10 percent less likely than women to buckle up. Seat belt use among teenagers—or lack of seat belt use—is very alarming. In 2011, almost 60 percent of teenagers killed in an auto accident were not wearing a safety belt.
- Use the “stop, look and listen” technique every time you drive. Make sure you look both directions at least twice before you pull out onto a highway, and be aware of your blind spots. Even in an intersection situation where you have a green light and clearly have the right-of-way, you must still continue to drive defensively, meaning looking out for those who aren’t driving safely and waiting a couple of seconds after the light changes to move forward.
- Always keep at least one hand on the steering wheel, and preferably both hands. In-vehicle distractions can cause you to take a hand from the steering wheel. Then a sudden wind gust, a tire blow-out, or even a minor pothole in the road can jerk your car into another lane. If you are eating a burger or holding a coffee cup with the other hand, you are much less able to control the vehicle during such an incident.
- Know and use the “12-second rule.” The “12-second rule” dictates that you continuously scan where you will be driving in 10-12 seconds. Never “tailgate” the car in front of you, rather maintain a position which is far enough from the cars ahead of you to that if they suddenly stop or swerve you would be able to avoid an accident.
- If you are driving in a rural area or on city streets, always watch for children. Children can appear out of nowhere in an instant, particularly from behind a parked car. Be extra-careful in areas where children could be present and slow down.
- Always carefully look behind you when backing out. Never depend solely on your mirrors, or even on your car’s backup camera. Make a point to physically look back to ensure there is nothing the mirrors or camera missed. Parking lot accidents are all-too common, as are accidents which occur when backing out of a driveway. Take the extra few seconds to physically look behind and on both sides of your vehicle.
- Be a courteous driver, and learn to overlook discourteous behaviors by other drivers. Unfortunately, road rage incidents are becoming more and more common. Drivers, especially those who commute significant distances to and from work, may be angry to begin with, and the smallest slight by another driver can send a driver over the edge. Make sure you show respect to others, and if a driver cuts you off or tailgates you, either pull over when you safely can, or just learn to ignore such behaviors. Retaliating against another driver is certainly not worth a road rage incident.
Getting Help Following Your Alabama Car Accident
Interstate auto accidents often involve more than one vehicle, making them particularly complex. In order to receive the compensation you need for your injuries stemming from the accident, it is important to have an experienced, knowledgeable personal injury attorney by your side. The attorneys at Martinson & Beason will work hard on your behalf to ensure you receive an equitable settlement. Our Alabama car wreck attorneys are well-versed in medical issues, therefore will be able to comprehensively understand your injuries and treatments. If you suffered injuries in an Alabama auto accident and feel your future is unsure, call Martinson & Beason today.