Vehicle Submersion and Car Fires – Do They Happen A Lot?

Car accident lawyers who help people injured in automobile accidents know that crashes occur in a variety of ways. Rarely do these car accidents involve vehicles that are submerged in water or ignited on fire regardless of what you see on television or in the movies. This misleading information may cause you to think that it might be better to avoid wearing a seatbelt.

Car accident attorneys who deal with the aftermath of vehicle wrecks agree that making such a choice is not wise since the possibility of being involved in such an accident is a minute possibility. Seatbelts do more good than harm when properly used.

Fires and Submersions Less Likely to Occur

Every year there are millions of car accidents on U.S. roads and highways. Recent crash statistic data indicates that more than 5.5 million crashes occurred in 2015 alone, resulting in over 22,000 fatalities.1 Among all the ways these crashes happened, car accident lawyers point out that only a few hundred or less one-half of a percent of wrecks involved a vehicle fire or submersion.

Conversely, it is estimated that as many as 50% of fatalities involve vehicle occupants not wearing seatbelts.1 Because drivers and passengers are 99.5% more likely to be involved in some other type of crash, car accident attorneys stress that the fear of a seatbelt preventing escape in such an event is unrealistic and unsafe.

How Likely Is a Car Fire?

Car fires are dangerous and scary; they do happen on occasion and for a number of reasons. Nearly half of all vehicle fires or 49% are caused by mechanical failure,2 with an additional 23% caused by an electrical failure. Overall, car accident lawyers assert the chance of experiencing a vehicle fire is very slim. The FMSHA estimates that each year only about 1,250 people are injured from car fires,3 of which 300 injuries are fatal.

Fortunately, this number is miniscule in the realm of total injuries and fatalities. Vehicle fire risks can be reduced by ensuring that all vehicles are properly maintained and any electrical or mechanical problems are repaired as soon they are discovered.  

How Many Cars Are Submerged Yearly?

Vehicle submersions are equally dangerous and scary - and equally rare. Estimates on car accidents that include vehicle submersion suggest an annual average of 384 of these events each year. Car accident attorneys find that among them, about two-thirds involve accidental drownings4. Again, this is a very small number in comparison to the total number of crashes due to other causes.  The majority of these events occur in 5 states: California, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Texas.

Based on actual statistics, it is easy to see that fire and submersion car accidents are rare. Naturally, car accident lawyers highlight the importance of things such as vehicle maintenance, paying attention to road conditions, and avoiding anything else that may cause these events. Most importantly, car accident attorneys stress these low statistics should not cause you to drive or ride in a vehicle without a seatbelt. Carrying a window punch and a seatbelt cutter in your vehicle is a much better option. Always remember that seatbelts save thousands of lives each year!

1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Motor Vehicle Safety - Seat Belts: Get the Facts, June 2, 2017
2National Fire Protection Association, News & Research, Fire Statistics and Reports, Fire Statistics, Vehicles: Vehicle Fire Trends and Patterns, June 2010
3Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Fire Administration: Vehicle Fires - What You Need to Know, August 2013
4National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Centers for Auto Safety, NHTSA Study: Drowning Deaths in Motor Vehicle Traffic Accidents, March 7, 2012


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