Although millions of Americans are injured in car accidents annually, two-thirds of them suffering permanent disability and over one million dying, most of us travel by car daily without considering such sobering statistics. It pays to take a few minutes to focus on common causes of car accidents as a means to becoming safer drivers so we can protect ourselves, our loved ones, and others we share the road with. While we can only control our own driving habits, safe driving is as contagious as reckless driving, so modeling careful driving will help to make the roads safer for all of us as we begin a new decade.
For the New Year, let’s all try to avoid the actions that put us, our passengers, and other drivers and pedestrians at greater risk of injury. Serious car accident injuries involve incalculable loss. Once you are severely injured you are faced with high medical costs, lost income, and extensive pain and suffering. If you ever find yourself in this situation as a result of another driver’s negligence, it is critical that you contact an experienced car accident attorney who knows exactly how to win you the compensation you deserve. For now, let’s try to protect you from injury in the first place.
Leading Causes of Car Accidents
The causes of car accidents are many and most are preventable if drivers exercise caution and common sense. Even though you may be injured in a car accident through no fault of your own, your own safe driving will significantly lower your risk of collision and injury. Below are the most common causes of car accidents:
Distracted driving is presently the leading cause of car accidents. The addition of electronic devices to the mix of other distractions has put this danger statistically over the top. Drivers have long listened to music or provocative talk radio, had food or drink, looked at maps, combed their hair or applied makeup while driving. Recently, the temptation to text or have complex conversations over the phone during car trips has made car travel more dangerous for everyone. It only takes a split second for an accident to occur so your best bet is to remember that driving takes undivided concentration.
Driving While Drunk or High on Drugs
It is impossible to give your full attention to your driving if you are impaired by alcohol or drugs. You do not need to be stumbling or slurring for your blood level to define you a criminal in the eyes of the law nor to make you a hazard on the road. You do not need to be “tripping” to present a danger on the road – taking anti-anxiety or sleeping medication may be enough to disqualify you. Designate a driver, take public transportation, or sleep it off. Don’t take foolish chances.
Speeding, Reckless or Aggressive Driving
Getting where you’re going late is better than not arriving at all. High rates of speed, weaving across lanes, tailgating – all make an accident not only more likely to occur but more likely to result in a fatality or severe injury.
Driving in Bad Weather Conditions
It is only sensible to avoid driving when the weather makes roads unsafe due to slippery pavement, pelting precipitation, or poor visibility. Very few things are so urgent that they necessitate driving in blizzards, dense fog, or heavy wind and rain. If you are unavoidably caught in such conditions, drive slowly and very carefully for as short a distance as possible.
Disobeying Traffic Signs and Signals
Not stopping fully at a red light or stop sign or making an illegal turn does more than put you at risk of getting a ticket. It puts you at risk of colliding with another vehicle or even with a pedestrian. Traffic signals are there for a reason. Obeying then consistently saves lives.
Car Defects or Lack of Necessary Repairs
Having only one working headlight presents a very real danger. Another car may mistake your vehicle for a motorcycle or may not see you at all. Not having brake, steering, or tire repairs as needed puts you and others on the road at grave risk. Be sure to have any unusual sounds, smells, or other symptoms of trouble checked out and to follow through on any manufacturer recalls. Always bring your car in for regular maintenance. The inconvenience of being without your car for a few hours or a few days is not nearly as great as the inconvenience of suffering a fractured bone or catastrophic brain injury.
Can your age put you at risk for car accidents?
Young and elderly drivers are more likely to be involved in car accidents involving serious injuries. It is a good idea for both groups to take defensive driving courses, limit the number of passengers in their cars, and avoid any distractions while driving. If you’re an older driver (over 65), make certain that you pay attention to any medical conditions and medications that may affect your driving and strongly consider how you will decide that driving yourself is no longer safe. If you are a teenager, recognize that the car you drive is both a tool and a potential weapon that must be handled with extreme care and that partying while driving is not cool, it’s disastrous.
Be Prepared for the Unexpected —Avoid These Common Causes of Car Accidents
Even the most cautious drivers can get into an accident due to totally unexpected external factors. Your only defense against such factors is to have an underlying awareness that:
- A child may chase a ball into the street
- A pedestrian may cross between intersections
- An animal may run onto the roadway
- The street may have a large pothole
- There may be debris on the road surface
- The road may still be slippery from last week’s snowstorm
- Another driver may make an erratic move
- A construction site may present obstacles or people working close by
Though it’s invaluable to have a competent car accident attorney to help you litigate or negotiate a claim for personal injury due to another’s negligence – it’s best not to have to cope with the ramifications of a personal injury at all. The physical, emotional, and financial impact on yourself and your family can truly be devastating.