Modern vehicles have many security features such as rear-view cameras, forward collision prevention systems, and emergency braking, among others. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that over 36,000 people are still involved in fatal car accidents annually.
A car accident, however minor, can change your life significantly. A seemingly small accident can leave you with permanent injuries that require life-long treatment, loss of wages, or even emotional distress resulting from losing a loved one.
Thankfully, knowing the common causes of car accidents can help you stay safe on the roads. Here, we explore some of the reasons and how to avoid them.
Distracted driving is among the top causes of car accidents in the United States. Contrary to popular belief, the human brain is designed to focus on one task at a time.
It means you will have reduced reaction time if you drive while engaging in other activities, such as using your cell phone, GPS, or other gadgets.
Every time you look at your phone to read a text or look who is calling, you are putting yourself and other road users at risk. There are many laws governing the use of cell phones while driving. However, statistics from the NHTSA show that over 850,000 drivers still use their phones behind the wheel.
Distracted drivers who cause accidents are usually held accountable for careless or negligent driving. The consequences can include jail time and significant compensation for injuries and other damages awarded to the victims.
To avoid getting distracted on the road, do not adjust mirrors, GPS, or radio while driving. If possible, connect your phone to the Bluetooth car kit, and do not read texts while driving. Always pull over to a safe place to use your phone or GPS, or read a map.
Driving Under the Influence
The NHTSA estimates that over 30 people are involved in fatal car accidents daily due to drunk driving. In 2020, over 11,000 lives were lost in DUI-related collisions. These staggering statistics have led to many campaigns against driving under the influence, including the Mothers Against Drunk Driving movement.
Despite public advocacy, drunk driving remains a major problem nationwide. In many states, drunk driving is illegal and can have serious consequences such as imprisonment, fines, license suspension, or mandatory alcohol assessment.
Even if you think you are sober enough to drive, consider using a designated driver, Lyft or Uber, to get home. A DUI can also extend to prescription drugs that lead to impairment so always follow your doctor’s instructions.
Speeding contributes to many severe crashes. In fact, 26% of all fatal crashes on American roads are caused by speeding drivers. The NHTSA estimates that over 13,000 lives are lost annually to this vice.
It is worth noting that for every 10 miles per hour you go over the speed limit, your chances of getting into a fatal crash increase by 100%.
Despite these jarring statistics, many drivers will exceed the speed limit to make it in time for an appointment or a meeting overlooking the dire consequences.
Speeding is especially disastrous on neighborhood roads where many road users, including children, go on foot or ride bicycles.
Not all accidents are caused by the person behind the wheel. External factors, such as the weather, can also cause serious crashes. Poor weather is one of the top culprits in this category.
Poor weather conditions can cause the road to be slippery, leading drivers to lose control of their vehicles. However, you will still be held responsible for accidents such as rear-ending another car due to reduced visibility caused by poor weather.
When weather conditions are less than ideal for driving, it is recommended that you take extreme caution on the roads. If you must drive in poor weather, use half the recommended speed.
It is also important to note that even in poor weather, you are still liable for any accidents you cause on the roads.
Running Red Lights
Intersections are ranked among the top dangerous spots on the road. Most accidents that happen at an intersection are usually a result of a driver running a red light. Running a yellow light can also cause an accident, forcing other drivers to make uncertain decisions quickly.
The yellow light is not the equivalent of a red light. Many drivers are confused by a yellow light, thinking it means they should hurry before the light turns red. This causes them to speed up as they approach the intersection resulting in serious collisions.
When the light turns yellow, stop if you can do so safely. If you cannot stop, look out for other cars entering the intersection. It is better to wait a few extra minutes than to speed up and cause a fatal car crash.
Road Rage or Aggressive Driving
Another common cause of road accidents is aggressive driving and road rage, which cause reckless driving. It is not uncommon for drivers to make mistakes or drive irresponsibly.
Some of these mistakes might end up slowing down other drivers or causing traffic to come to a standstill. It is essential to remain calm and patient behind the wheel and avoid making hasty decisions that might cause you to break traffic rules.
Emotions such as anger can override your judgment and result in fatal accidents. Aggressive driving, road rage, tailgating, and reckless driving are among the top aggressive driving behaviors that cause serious accidents.
Running a Stop Sign
According to the IIHS, 33% of intersection accidents occur where a stop sign controls the intersection. While only a small number of drivers run the stop sign, most accidents at these intersections result from poor decision-making.
Poor road conditions and reduced visibility also play a big role. It can be difficult for a driver to decide when to proceed at an intersection with a stop sign, particularly when there are obstacles like trees.
Other Common Causes of Accidents
There are numerous causes of accidents. These include:
Accidents Caused by Driver Error
- Night driving
- Unsafe lane changing
- Drowsy driving
- Teenage drivers
- Improper turns
- Driving the wrong way
- Decision errors
- Disregarding road signs
- Not leaving enough space between you and other motorists
Road Accidents Caused by External Factors
- Poor road design
- Ice or snow on the roads
- Tire blowouts
- Animal Crossing
- Deadly curves
- Construction and roadworks
- Malfunctioning traffic lights
- Missing road signs
- Vehicle defect
Driver errors are the leading cause of road accidents in the country. It is important that you stay alert and observe your surroundings to keep all road users safe. If you have been involved in an accident, even if you are partially at fault, contact a personal injury lawyer to find out your options.
In most cases, the specifics of a car accident are difficult to identify until a proper investigation is conducted.
An experienced personal injury attorney will help you investigate the circumstances of your case. This is an invaluable service, especially if you are in the hospital recovering from your injuries.
Contact a personal injury attorney to get a free consultation and determine whether you are eligible for compensation.