San Jose, California, closed 2022 with 60 fatal collisions and 62 traffic-related deaths.
On December 10, 2022, a Chevrolet truck collided with a billboard steel pillar after turning left onto Story Road. Three of the passengers sustained moderate to severe injuries, while one of them died at the hospital. The unharmed driver showed signs of alcohol impairment.
Car crash fatalities in the Bay Area continue to rise. The local government addresses the issue by implementing road safety programs. For example, the San Jose Department of Transportation’s Vision Zero program aims to educate the public about traffic safety.
Spreading traffic safety awareness may not immediately eliminate car crash fatalities in the Bay Area, but it can have long-term positive impacts.
Every motorist must learn and relearn road safety and traffic rules to prevent traffic deaths and keep everyone safe. This blog serves as a guide detailing helpful tips and relevant San Jose car accident laws.
To learn more about car accident laws, personal injury, and the right to claim damages, visit The Personal Injury Center. Our online repository has reliable and simplified content, ideal for non-legal experts seeking to improve their legal knowledge.
|Key Takeaways |
How To Become a Well-Educated Driver
A study found that road safety education improves driving performance, reducing up to 44 percent of car crash risk. In line with this approach, the California Office of Traffic Safety (COTY) provides education to pedestrians and motorists on safe driving culture.
Besides learning from COTY, it also helps when drivers make proactive efforts to be proficient and consistent in their driving skills. The following recommendations can help you become a well-educated driver:
Stay updated on traffic laws
California has an active traffic law system that continually adapts to the needs of its residents. In 2023, several new laws were enacted to change local traffic policies. Here are some of the notable ones:
- Senate Bill No. 1398: Dealers and manufacturers must refrain from deceptively marketing a semi-autonomous car feature.
- Assembly Bill No. 1909: Drivers must change into another available lane to give way to cyclists.
- Assembly Bill No. 2000: Ban of sideshows at parking facilities.
- Senate Bill No. 1193: Customers may opt to receive specific DMV notices electronically.
Visit the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or the California Highway Patrol (CHP) for the latest traffic law notifications.
Learn driving etiquettes
Traffic rules may vary per state, but driving etiquette is universal. Being polite encourages other motorists to act similarly toward you. Observe these driving etiquettes at all times:
- Maintain a safe driving distance of at least three car lengths
- Wave to the driver behind you when merging lanes
- Dim light beams at night when another driver is approaching
- Observe the recommended speed limit
- Avoid using your horn to vent out frustrations
Be familiar with the San Jose Police Department
The police department plays a crucial role in traffic regulation and resolution of traffic-related crimes. They respond to car accidents and conduct appropriate investigations to maintain safety on the roads.
A well-educated driver should have the contact information of local police and their precincts in case of emergencies. Doing so can expedite the clearing operations and save the lives of those injured in car accidents.
Know your blind spots
You can avoid accidents by being mindful of your blind spots. Even the most skilled drivers can experience road challenges due to various factors.
For example, cars of different sizes may not be visible through front and side mirrors when driving too close. Truck drivers may side-sweep motorcycles or smaller vehicles because they are not noticeable from a higher angle.
Moreover, drivers should check their mirrors for blindspots and leave enough space between their vehicles and others.
Master your car’s features
A survey revealed that most drivers had limited knowledge of their vehicle’s safety features. The researchers asked about anti-lock brakes, cruise control, and tire-pressure monitoring systems. Only a few of the respondents knew what they were and how they functioned.
Being familiar with your car’s features can make your travels safer and more convenient. Likewise, it is essential to understand how every car part functions to identify any malfunctions and address them promptly. Even a minor issue can increase driving risks.
Practice car meditation
Driving can be stressful, especially after spending hours on the road. Long drives can lead to negative emotions such as anxiety and anger. A well-educated driver should prioritize their mental wellness and find ways to manage driving-induced stress.
Some find it relaxing to listen to music. Others utilize breathing exercises to relieve stress. It’s crucial to experiment with different coping strategies and find what works best for you.
Driver Education vs. Driver Training
Many use “driver training” and “driver education” interchangeably, but they have distinct meanings. Drivers should be keen when using these terms because each holds specific legal implications.
Driver education is an instructional program covering traffic laws, road safety, driver duties, and ways to avoid vehicular accidents. Students may undertake classes in a professional classroom, home study, or online setup. The program spans at least 30 hours or two and a half semesters.
In comparison, driver training involves real-world driving or simulated driving. Students need to complete at least six hours of behind-the-wheel training with a DMV-licensed professional driving instructor. Every student is limited to two hours of driving training sessions per day.
Top Causes of Traffic Collisions
The 2020 OTS Crash Rankings Results reported San Jose as the 12th city out of fifteen with the most car fatalities and injuries in California. Despite San Jose’s relatively low ranking, its motorists face various threats causing car accidents daily.
It’s crucial to be aware of the leading causes of traffic collisions in San Jose to avoid becoming a victim. Here are some of the common causes:
Overspeeding kills at least 30 people a day in the US. In 2021, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 8,462 speeding-related traffic deaths, a 7.9% increase from 2020.
According to Section 22350 of the California Vehicle Code, a driver is overspeeding when they:
- drive faster than the recommended speed limit
- disregard the weather, visibility, and traffic conditions
- endanger the safety of persons or property
Driving under the influence (DUI)
Section 23152 of the California Vehicle Code prohibits driving while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. Drivers having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.04% may incur criminal liability.
The California State Police made 124,141 DUI-related arrests in 2019. In the same year, the DMV recorded 3,737 DUI-related car crash fatalities. Compared to other causes of car collisions, culpable drivers have a higher chance of having alcohol or drugs in their system.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that nine persons a day die in car accidents involving a distracted driver. Moreover, one in five deaths involving distracted drivers is not driving vehicles. The victims were either pedestrians or bikers.
Distracted driving can be visual, manual, or cognitive. Common examples include texting, calling, eating, and navigating the GPS.
Aggressive driving involves displaying risky driving behaviors that often result in violence. Others call it reckless driving or road rage. In some states, this action counts as a misdemeanor.
The following may count as aggressive driving:
- Speeding in the middle of heavy traffic
- Cutting in front of other drivers
- Beating the red light
- Changing lanes without proper signals
- Ignoring other drivers’ right of way
Driving while feeling sleepy is dangerous to the driver, passengers, and other motorists. When you’re feeling drowsy, it may prevent you from making timely and mindful decisions.
Drowsy driving happens more commonly than most realize. In fact, one in twenty-five adults admits to having fallen asleep while driving. Here are some warning signs:
- Repeated yawning
- Difficulty keeping your head straight
- Disrupted thinking
- Sudden acceleration when hitting a road bump
- Missing traffic lights and signals
Bad road conditions
Sometimes, a car crash is not entirely the driver’s fault. External factors like road conditions may prevent motorists from driving safely and avoid accidents. Some common road hazards that may contribute to car crashes include:
- Shattered asphalt
- Faded lanes
- Faded or unmaintained signage
- Overgrown vegetation
- Debris from a previous vehicular accident
Best Practices To Avoid Car Accidents
Car accidents remain a leading cause of death in the US, with over 100 fatalities daily. Fortunately, many of these accidents are preventable through safe driving practices.
The California Civil Jury Instructions Number 700 requires drivers to exercise reasonable care while on the road. Here are a few examples of safe driving practices:
Observe speed limits
Section 22349 of the California Vehicle Code sets the maximum speed limit to 65 miles per hour. However, local cities have the discretion to lower the speed limits in certain areas.
For instance, the City of San Jose lowered speed limits in areas with high pedestrian and biker activities. The decision was implemented to help reduce hit-and-run incidents and other road emergencies.
Maintain a cool head
Aggressive drivers have no place on the road. Their anger and frustration can lead to dangerous driving behaviors that put others at risk. As discussed earlier, aggressive driving threatens the safety of others. Stay calm to keep your judgments clear while behind the wheel.
Change lanes only when necessary
Change lanes carefully and intentionally. Repetitive and unnecessary swerving may increase the risk of side-swept accidents and head-on collisions. Additionally, constantly changing lanes can be confusing for other drivers and lead to road rage.
Even if no car crash occurs, other motorists might feel frustrated. Remember that all drivers have the right of way, and abrupt lane changes can violate this rule and create dangerous situations. Plan your lane changes and signal appropriately.
Always wear seatbelts
Section 27315 of the California Vehicle Code outlines the California seatbelt law. In summary, the law requires:
- Drivers and passengers aged sixteen and older must wear seatbelts while in a vehicle
- Children younger than eight years old must use a booster seat
- Children younger than two years old must use a rear-facing seat
Refrain from overloading
Overloading a vehicle puts significant strain on the engine and tires, potentially leading to mechanical failures. Additionally, an overloaded vehicle will be difficult to maneuver and control when car parts, such as tires, suddenly gives out.
Be more careful when driving at night
According to the National Safety Council, around 50 percent of fatal car accidents occur at night. Night driving can be more dangerous due to decreased visibility. Additionally, drivers are more likely to be tired or intoxicated by alcohol or drugs, increasing the risk of accidents.
Check your car before driving
Regularly check your car’s condition to ensure driving safety. It reduces your chances of getting stranded on the road and experiencing a car accident. Inspect the following:
- Car battery
- Tire pressure
- Fuel tank
- Engine oil
- Brake fluid
- Car lights
Stay updated with new traffic notifications
Besides traffic laws, drivers should check the latest traffic news. Prior knowledge about traffic flow in an area helps you prepare for the road. Likewise, knowing about potential road closures, constructions, or accidents can help you plan your route and avoid unexpected delays.
Overview of California Car Accident Laws
In California, car accident laws aim to hold parties accountable for their actions that cause injury or damage. Understanding these laws or legal concepts can help you get a better grasp of your legal rights and options after an accident.
California follows an at-fault system during auto accidents. It means that the at-fault driver must compensate the injured party for the bodily injuries and property damage they sustained. Moreover, the state follows the comparative negligence rule. Even if you are only partially at fault for the accident, you may still recover damages.
Injured parties in a car crash may claim economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages compensate for monetary losses, such as medical bills and loss of income. In comparison, non-economic losses cover the pain and suffering injured parties experienced due to the accident.
Statute of Limitations
Injured parties in a car accident must file their personal injury claims within two years from the accident date. Filing a lawsuit beyond this period can result in forfeiture of the claim.
Car accident insurance
California law requires drivers to obtain auto liability insurance, which covers bodily injuries and property damage to others. The minimum requirement is $15,000 per person for bodily injury, $30,000 for bodily injury per accident, and $5,000 for property damage per accident.
Before filing any legal action arising from a vehicle accident, contact a San Jose personal injury lawyer or law firm. An experienced attorney can help you protect your rights and ensure you receive fair compensation. Some offer a free consultation, so make sure you ask.
Did you know?
The Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations sets the minimum standards for how insurance companies handle car accident settlement claims. The guidelines ensure that claimants make well-informed decisions and get a fair settlement.
Work With a Seasoned San Jose Car Accident Lawyer
Every driver is responsible for maintaining road safety, driving etiquette, and traffic laws. It’s a way of contributing to the overall safety of motorists and pedestrians on the road.
Given the high frequency of car accidents in San Jose, drivers should strive to stay vigilant and educated about road safety. Everyone should be keen on relevant changes in traffic policies and regulations.
The Personal Injury Center is an online resource center for anyone interested in growing their legal knowledge. We also offer a free case evaluation to parties curious to explore their legal options for personal injury claims.
Find dedicated and experienced San Jose car accident lawyers at The Personal Injury Center. You deserve quality representation from the most skilled attorneys in the field.
FAQs on San Jose Car Accidents
How much money can I claim in a car accident in San Jose?
The amount varies depending on the injuries you incurred. You may work with personal injury lawyers to maximize your settlement amount.
Can I claim compensation even if I am the driver at fault?
At-fault parties can also claim compensation, especially when not wholly liable. California follows a comparative negligence law, so parties may receive damages to the extent of injuries they suffered.
Should I hire a lawyer to enter into a car accident settlement?
Parties may choose not to hire a lawyer to enter into a settlement for personal injuries. However, working with attorneys is advantageous. They have the legal experience to help you get a favorable settlement.