New Orleans holds a mystery and allure that draws millions of visitors to the city each year. With round-the-clock nightlife in a region steeped with culture and history, the Big Easy doesn’t disappoint. However, there are many roads in and near the city where drivers are at risk of being involved in a car accident. Here is a look at where car accidents occur in New Orleans.
Facts About Car Accidents
According to Driver Knowledge, around 6 million car accidents occur each year in the U.S., resulting in approximately 3 million injuries and six percent of people involved in car accidents will die as a result of their injuries.
Other interesting facts about traffic accidents are: alcohol is a factor in around 40 percent of them, speeding is a factor in 30 percent, and reckless driving comes into play in around a third of all traffic accidents. Does this mean it’s safe to text and drive? Absolutely not. Research shows that driving while using a handheld electronic device reduces the amount of brain activity focused on operating a vehicle safely by around 37 percent.
In Louisiana, Governor John Bel Edwards noted that there has been a disturbing trend taking place on the state’s roadways, with a significant increase in fatal accidents. Nearly 1,000 people die on Louisiana roadways in a year. According to traffic facts provided by the LSU Center for Analytics and Research in Transportation Safety, which supplies annual traffic accident statistics for the state’s Department of Transportation, there were more than 6,500 injury crashes in Orleans Parish in a year, resulting in more than 10,800 people injured, far more than what occurred in any other parish.
Where Did These Accidents Happen?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic accidents in the U.S. are far more likely to occur on urban roads than on rural ones. This likely results from more drivers being on the roadways and a greater chance that at least some of those drivers are engaging in dangerous behaviors such as speeding, drunk driving, or being distracted by a cell phone.
As noted by MoneyGeek, the deadliest stretch of road in the state lies in Orleans Parish on I-10 E from Exit 231A to 239B. This 4.7-mile stretch experienced 13 fatal accidents and featured 2.8 crashes per mile in three years.
Other dangerous roads and intersections in and around New Orleans include:
- The intersection of Bourbon Street and Canal Street, which the city’s public works department stated is the most dangerous intersection in all of New Orleans. In a five-year study, this intersection experienced 18 crashes, with two that involved serious injuries or fatalities.
- South Claiborne Avenue (Highway 90) at Gravier Street, where there were four crashes in five years, including two fatal accidents and another one that involved serious injuries.
- Poydras Street at Camp Street, where five years saw 11 crashes, including two that involved fatalities or serious injuries.
- Iberville Street at North Peters Street, where there were also 11 crashes, with two that resulted in fatalities or serious injuries.
- South Peters Street at Poydras Street, with eight crashes in five years. Two of those crashes resulted in death or serious injuries.
- Esplanade Avenue at North Claiborne Avenue (Highway 39), with seven crashes and two resulting in serious injuries or death.
Why Do So Many Accidents in New Orleans Occur at Intersections?
Intersections are among the most chaotic situations for a driver because there people must stop and yield the right-of-way to other drivers.
Negligence and recklessness make this difficult, including:
- Alcohol consumption. Drunk driving is the leading factor in traffic accidents in Louisiana and is one of the most common factors in accidents across the U.S. According to Ward III. The French Quarter contains more than 80 drinking establishments, including restaurants that provide alcohol, as well as dive bars, cocktail lounges, and nightclubs. Alcohol creates deficits in the brain functions needed to operate a vehicle safely on a public roadway, such as surveillance capabilities, the ability to control one’s speed, the ability to maintain a single lane of travel, and the ability to respond appropriately to emergency driving situations. These deficits do not begin when the driver reaches the legal impairment limit of .08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood. Instead, they start with the first drink and progressively worsen as more drinks are consumed in a short period.
- Distraction. Many people associate driving distractions automatically with cell phone use, such as texting. While texting is one of the most dangerous types of distractions as it simultaneously causes a driver to take their hands from the proper position on the steering wheel, their eyes from watching the roadway, and their mind from the task of safe driving—this is New Orleans and you know there are more distractions that can lead to car accidents, including external distractions such as watching other people or cars along the roadside.
- Speeding. To make the French Quarter safer for pedestrians, the city recently reduced the speed limit throughout the Quarter to 15 miles per hour. However, there are much higher posted speeds in other areas of New Orleans, leading to a risk of accidents involving pedestrians, motor vehicles, bicycles, and almost everyone. When a driver travels faster than what is safe for the traffic and weather conditions of the roadway, they deprive themselves of the time they need to see a roadway hazard and respond to it by slamming on the brakes. They also deprive others of accurately determining when there is a gap in traffic that is sufficient for them to enter a travel lane or make a left turn. Excess speed increases the energy of the crash, which tends to result in more severe injuries and property damage.
- Plain, old carelessness. Drivers often fail to consider the weapon their vehicle can become if not operated safely and per local and state traffic laws. Most passenger cars are around 14.7 feet long and 5.8 feet wide, weighing slightly over 4,000 pounds, and capable of operating over 100 miles an hour. Drivers are carrying cell phones and fussing at children in the back seat. They’re late for work, late for picking the kids up from school, angry at their boss, daydreaming, listening to music, eating, drinking, smoking, and seemingly doing everything but focusing on driving.
What Is the Most Dangerous Time to Drive on Roads in New Orleans?
New Orleans is where there is something to do and someplace to go at any time of the day or night. However, as noted in Louisiana’s traffic facts, accidents in New Orleans are most likely to occur on weekend nights or early mornings.
This is due to:
- The number of drunk or drugged drivers increases on weekend nights, which are commonly associated with people being off work and without anywhere they need to go the following day.
- Reduced visibility at night. This is a particularly difficult driving situation for the youngest and oldest drivers on the roadway due to a lack of experience for the former and age-related visual declines for the latter.
- Drowsy driving. A study from the National Institute of General Sciences explains that the circadian rhythm is the body’s “internal clock” that tells the brain when it is time to wake up and go to sleep. For most people, the body is instinctively wired to experience a mid-afternoon slump and to sleep during the late night and early morning hours. Although drowsy driving is often considered an issue affecting long-haul truck drivers and night shift workers, it is crucial to understand that ANY driver who has missed a night’s sleep or suffers from a condition that affects the quality of sleep they get is capable of drowsy driving. Teen drivers’ risk is exceptionally high, as teens require more sleep than adults.
The Types of Accidents that Occur on New Orleans Roadways
What types of accidents occur on New Orleans roadways? To put it simply: All of them.
However, certain accidents are more likely to occur in certain parts of the city.
- Head-on collisions happen when the fronts of two vehicles traveling in opposite directions collide. These accidents are commonly the result of a drunk driver or one traveling at such an excessive speed that they lose control of their vehicle. However, other driver behaviors can lead to this type of crash, such as improper passing or even unfamiliarity with the city that leads someone to drive the wrong way down a one-way street, such as Carondelet Street, which only permits vehicles traveling eastbound.
- Broadside accidents—also known as T-bone crashes—happen when the front of one vehicle collides with the side of another vehicle. These are one of the most dangerous types of accidents due to size discrepancies in the vehicles involved and a lack of vehicle protection for occupants riding on the side of a struck vehicle. These accidents are also the most common type of accident to occur at an intersection. When you consider the dangerous intersections located around the city, it is a good bet that most of the crashes that have happened there that involve two vehicles were broadside accidents. These accidents are almost always the result of one driver failing to yield the right-of-way.
- Rear-end accidents in which the front of one vehicle collides with the trunk of another. This type of accident is so common that it has cutesy nicknames such as “fender-bender” or “whiplash crash.” However, rear-end accidents are not cute at all, as they lead to thousands of serious injuries and fatalities on U.S. roads each year. Rear-end accidents are commonly the result of one vehicle tailgating another. However, other factors can be involved, such as a distracted driver failing to notice that traffic ahead of them was stopped or a vehicle entering the travel lane without ensuring that there was enough space to do so without causing an accident with another vehicle traveling in that lane.
- Sideswipe accidents, in which the sides of two vehicles traveling in the same direction or opposite directions collide. These accidents are typically caused by a driver failing to ensure the travel lane is clear before entering it or failing to maintain a single travel lane. Unfortunately, drunk driving in tourist-happy city areas leads to many sideswipe accidents. These accidents can be hazardous as one of the drivers risks losing control and colliding with other vehicles, bicycles, or pedestrians on the roadway.
What Can You Do to Reduce Your Risk of Car Accidents in New Orleans
While it is interesting to consider the most dangerous intersections and roadways in New Orleans, drivers often have no choice but to use these roads to reach their destination.
Even if you drive safely, without distractions, and with the vigilance of someone who knows an accident is waiting to happen at the next light, the next exit, or around the next corner, someone else may not. Pedestrians and bicyclists must pay attention to their surroundings at all times, as motor vehicle accident can easily kill or injure these vulnerable people. Even still, you can only do so much to predict and respond to the behaviors of others on the road.
After a car accident in New Orleans the careless or reckless behavior of another driver caused, contact an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible about the claims process so you can seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of your injury.