Nearly six million car accidents occur each year in the United States. While distracted driving makes up a bulk of these accidents, other causes can also lead to property damage, personal injury, and even death. Understanding the main causes of auto accidents can help keep you more vigilant and in control while on the road. Remember, vehicle accidents can happen to anyone and not all accidents are preventable. If you’re involved in an accident, be sure to contact a lawyer regardless of how minor the accident may seem.
Take a look at the top 8 causes of car accidents and how you can decrease your odds of being involved in a collision.
Whether you’re driving on a quiet residential street or are cruising down the interstate, you never want to surpass the speed limit. Speeding is one of the most common contributors of car accidents in the U.S. and for good reason. When you speed, your reaction time is significantly lengthened, and you reduce your ability to control the vehicle. Certain factors such as poor weather, dark conditions, and distractions in your environment can increase your chances of getting into an accident even more. No matter how much in a hurry you are, there is no good reason to speed while driving.
2. Cell Phone Use
Talking or texting on your cell phone is a common form of distracted driving. While you may be looking at the road, talking on the phone can distract you from your surroundings, increasing your risk of getting into a car accident. Texting is even more dangerous as it forces your eyes away from the road. While there have been many new laws passed prohibiting cell phone use while driving, many people continue to use their phones will behind the wheel. When driving, turn the volume off on your phone or turn the phone off completely to prevent the temptation to answer it.
3. Falling Asleep
Long hours at work or poor sleep the night before can drastically increase your risk of falling asleep at the wheel. Driver fatigue is responsible for up to three percent of all roadway fatalities and this number continues to go up as more drivers test their personal limits on the roadway. To deter drivers from driving while tired, individuals with a history of falling asleep while driving may be prosecuted for a criminal defense. In short, don’t risk it. If you are highly fatigued, call a cab or ask a friend or family member to drive you home.
4. Drunk Driving
Driving under the influence, otherwise known as drunk driving, increases your probability of getting into an auto accident by a whopping 900 percent. Even a small amount of alcohol in your system can affect your ability to drive safely. As you drink, you lose your judgement, your mood is altered, and your muscle coordination starts to slow. It also becomes harder to concentrate and a deterioration of reaction time can reduce your ability to brake and maintain your position in a lane. If you plan on drinking, always have an alternative way home as you should never drive drunk.
5. Poor Weather
Depending on where you live, you may experience a wide range of weather conditions that can make driving a challenge. Heavy rain, snow, and hail can reduce visibility making it more difficult to see the road, other drivers, and possible obstructions in the roadway. You may also not be able to see road signs that say to slow down. Slippery roads caused by ice can also make driving dangerous. If you lose traction while driving, you may find yourself slipping into other vehicles or off the road completely. Always use caution when driving in poor weather conditions and avoid it altogether if possible.
Rubbernecking is the conscious decision to stare at something happening outside of your vehicle instead of paying to the road. This can occur when you see a car crash, people that you know on the side of the road or any other type of distraction that may be occurring in your environment. Not all types of rubbernecking have a negative cause. It’s also considered rubbernecking when you’re looking at nice things too, such as a sunset in the distance. While you may feel like this type of rubbernecking is innocent, it can cause an accident in the same way as any other type or rubbernecking.
7. Defective Vehicle
When was the last time you had your vehicle inspected? If you fail to regularly maintain your vehicle, you may find that it develops problems such as squishy breaks or an accelerator that sticks. Tire defects and similar problems can also cause car accidents that lead to property damage and personal injuries. To help avoid this type of vehicle accident, have your car inspected and maintained on a regular basis. If the mechanic finds any problems, try to have them fixed as soon as possible.
8. Reckless Driving
Reckless driving is the disregard of property or persons while driving. Reckless or aggressive driving is a common cause of car accidents and can result in a plethora of traffic offenses, such as speeding, failure to obey traffic signals, unsafe lane changes, passing on the right, failure to yield right-of-way, following too closely, failure to signal, and similar offenses. Aggressive drivers may weave in and out of traffic, run stop signs, and drive too fast, endangering themselves and others on the road. Reckless driving can cause serious injuries and hundreds to thousands of dollars in property damage.
Most vehicle accidents can be attributed to negligent driver behaviors, such as speeding, driving while impaired, or distracted drivers. However, there are also times when crashes and collisions have other causes, such as slippery roads or mechanical defects in a vehicle. Understanding what factors can cause a car accident can help you better avoid these contributors while keeping you safer on the road.