Nearly 40,000 deaths occur each year due to car accidents in the United States, and another four and a half million people are seriously injured. However, many accidents could be avoided by simply exercising more care while on the road. The best way to avoid collisions is to know the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents and to put that knowledge to use every day.
What Causes the Most Car Accidents?
Most traffic accidents today are caused by distracted driving. In recent years, this threat has grown exponentially. Most people think of distracted driving as texting or talking on their phones while behind the wheel. While those are major distractions, many others often cause collisions, including the following:
- Applying makeup/Grooming
- Adjusting music selections or radio stations
- Looking at social media or playing games on smartphones
However, one of the most common distractions is often hard to avoid. That’s children needing or requesting things from their parents while driving. It can be a challenge to ignore kids when they need something, but it can keep them safer. Avoid giving toddlers or infants anything they could use to harm themselves and make sure they are buckled according to the state’s safety standards. That way, you know whatever discomfort they have isn’t dangerous and you can focus on the road. When age appropriate, discuss with your children how you can’t look at them or automatically engage while driving.
What Are the Other Major Causes of Traffic Accidents?
While distracted driving is the primary cause of car accidents, there are many more to be aware of and try to avoid. Consider the following.
- Driving under the influence. Everyone knows that they should never get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, yet thousands of people do it every day. This is not the leading cause of accidents, but it does cause the most deaths, so it deserves as much attention.
Even individuals who are cautious and generally drive with care justify driving under the influence by reasoning that they have “only had one drink” or they “feel fine.” It is essential to understand that even the slightest “buzz” affects reaction time and decision-making skills. Riding with a sober designated driver, taking public transportation, or using rideshare services are always the best options to avoid a disastrous situation.
Keep in mind that certain over-the-counter and prescription medications can cause drowsiness and other conditions that are dangerous while driving. If you are ever unsure, it is best to err on the side of caution and not drive.
- Speeding. Everyone is in a hurry sometimes, and it often seems that the best way to get caught up is to push the speed while getting to an appointment, a family function, work, or an important meeting. The truth, however, is that speed limits are set for a reason, and it is never wise to risk breaking them. This cause of auto accidents comes just behind distracted driving and DUI, so staying within the speed limit could go a long way toward cutting down on collision statistics – and it could also save your life.
- Reckless driving. Aggressive driving tactics and speeding are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they often go hand-in-hand. This may include weaving in and out of traffic lanes, passing on the shoulder, and entering an intersection at an unsafe time, among other actions. You must always be conscious of your actions while driving and consider the possible repercussions of driving recklessly. Individuals often drive aggressively when they are in a rush or upset about something. In these situations, it is essential to take some time to calm down before getting on the road.
- Tailgating. Drivers tend to get irritated when someone is riding too closely behind them - and with good reason. Failing to maintain a safe distance between cars can easily lead to a rear-end collision if the leading car needs to hit the brakes. However, those same drivers will often do the same thing to other individuals if they are in a hurry and feel that the person in front of them is moving too slowly. The fact is, you won’t reach your destination any faster if you are right on the bumper of the car in front of you than you will if you are following at a safer distance. If you find yourself tailgating, take a few breaths to calm yourself, and back off of the vehicle in front of you.
- Running traffic lights. At times, drivers run through a traffic light or a stop sign because they are distracted, or the sign is hidden by trees, bushes, or another vehicle. Whatever the reason, it is crucial to be aware of this driving mistake and take care to avoid it. Failing to stop when another vehicle may have the right of way not only puts lives in danger, but it may result in a hefty fine if the authorities are watching.
- Vehicle defects. This cause for motor vehicle accidents is one that most people don’t give much thought to. It is normal to assume that a car is safe to drive if it seems to be running smoothly. Unfortunately, vehicles sometimes make their way onto the market with factory defects, despite rigorous testing during production. To avoid defects, it is research any recalls on your car. The best course of action is to resolve these issues as soon as possible and keep up with regular maintenance such as inspections and oil changes.
- Improper turns and wrong-way driving. Always give full attention to the road and street signs while driving. Be sure to look for “one-way” signs, as well as those indicating illegal turns or “no turn on red.” Safe driving techniques should always include yielding the right-of-way when appropriate, reading all street signs, obeying traffic signals, making turns from the proper lane, and using turn signals.
Seek Legal Help if You Have Been in an Accident
If you have been injured in an accident, the top priority is your well-being, so your first step should be getting the medical attention you need. As soon as you are able, speak with a trusted, reputable attorney about your case. The experienced legal professionals at Peach & Weathers can walk you through the process of getting the compensation you deserve. Visit our website today to see how we can help.