Car accidents take more than 90 American lives every day; and with more than two million drivers sustaining permanent injuries during car accidents each year, it’s easy to see that motor vehicle crashes impact many of the people around us.
You can’t prevent an accident caused by another driver’s misconduct and negligence. You can, however, educate yourself when it comes to some of the most common car accident causes. Understanding which factors most often lead to crashes can help you make educated decisions on the road. If, for example, you can identify the signs of drunk driving on the road, you may be able to report an inebriated driver to the police and save the lives of those around you.
Below, we’ve outlined just a handful of factors that lead to car accidents in the U.S. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does provide a detailed look into some of the behaviors and practices that influence crash likelihood.
The Most Common Causes of Car Accidents
Data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration illustrates that distracted driving accounts for the vast majority of driver-caused car accidents, leading to more than 3,000 deaths in 2017 alone.
While the term may conjure up mental images of teens glued to their texts at the wheel, many adult drivers find themselves distracted on the road, too. Statistics show that less than 10 percent of fatalities caused by distracted driving in 2017 can be attributed to distracted teens.
Distractions come in all shapes and sizes. Properly operating a motor vehicle takes virtually all of an individual’s concentration and cognitive effort—just one small glance in the wrong direction can spell disaster. Many of us believe that distracted driving means channeling one’s complete and total attention away from driving. This is not the case.
Any activity or occurrence that diverts a drivers’ attention from operating their motor vehicle results in distracted driving. Even eating or drinking at the wheel qualifies as distracted driving. When you realize that taking time to adjust your stereo’s volume can prove deadly, the concept of going as far as texting while driving begins to seem even more ludicrous.
Countless negligent individuals drive distracted on roads and freeways across America every day. Chances are that if you’re on the road, you’re near somebody who’s failing to pay ample attention to the drivers around them.
There’s no surefire way to prevent accidents with distracted drivers—they’re unpredictable and, seemingly, all around us. The most effective step that drivers can take to protect themselves is maintaining awareness and driving defensively. If you notice a distracted driver in your vicinity while on the road, take steps to distance yourself from them.
Driving Under the Influence
Unfortunately, millions of Americans decide to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol every year. The CDC notes that almost 30 Americans die each day as a result of alcohol-impaired drivers. Accidents that lead to senseless fatalities like these collectively cost upwards of $45 billion per year. These costly and tragic disasters occur when negligent individuals elect to put the lives of those around them at risk.
Driving under the influence has proven itself to be a growing issue in recent years. Nearly a third of traffic-related deaths across the country can be traced to impaired driving. With the legalization and increasing use of marijuana products in some states, a growing number of drivers have THC in their systems at the time of assessment. The popularity of these mind-altering drugs and alcohol products presents a serious threat to drivers nation-wide.
If you’re looking to avoid drivers like these on the roadways, there are a few steps that you can take to protect yourself and those around you. Studies indicate that the majority of drunk drivers tend to range from 21 to 34 years of age: if you know an individual who falls into this age range and who may be at risk of driving drunk, encourage them to seek help or opt for other methods of transportation after drinking.
Out on the road, keep your eyes peeled for drivers who seem to be behaving erratically. If a car begins to drift excessively or a driver seems to be in a constant state of either catatonia or correction, chances are that they may be inebriated. Always maintain a safe distance from these drivers and alert local authorities as soon as you can safely do so.
Driving above the speed limit is an immensely dangerous practice for numerous reasons. Not only can it frighten or shock unsuspecting motorists nearby, but it places everybody at a disadvantage. Speeding drivers have far less time to stop and avoid collision than those traveling the speed limit. The cars around a speeding vehicle are not afforded ample time to react to the driver’s actions, either.
Many drivers opt to ignore speed limits—others may be unaware of speed regulations and exceed them by mistake. Regardless, there’s never a valid reason to speed. Responsible drivers should always take care to check speed limits before getting on the road if they’re uncertain. Even pressing deadlines and appointments can—and should—wait. Too many overworked professionals and busy parents lose sight of safety in the name of getting to work or school on time.
Other drivers choose to exceed the speed limit for different reasons. In some cases, speeding might be a sign of driving under the influence. Other scenarios may involve speeding as a result of distracted driving. It’s just one of the many reasons why speeding is so dangerous. The issue can stand alone, but may also be a clue that points to additional troubles.
Never overlook the significant dangers of speeding. Over 9,300 Americans died as a result of speeding in 2019 alone. While we all understand how difficult it can be to juggle the busy schedules of modern life, there’s never an excuse to endanger the people around you.
The concept of reckless driving encompasses a wide variety of problematic practices. Some people may drive recklessly due to individualized scenarios or for more nefarious reasons. A man may drive recklessly to get his laboring wife to the hospital, for example, while somebody else drives recklessly as the product of road rage. It’s virtually impossible to predict when or why somebody may drive recklessly. That’s one reason why it proves so dangerous for other motorists on the road.
Some drivers mistakenly assume that reckless vehicle operation is a minor offense. It is not. Those who drive recklessly in Florida may be subject to fines, jail time, and probation. Penalties increase rapidly and exponentially in proportion to how much damage is done to property and human life. Anyone who drives with disregard for the safety of the people and property around them is subject to these penalties.
Reckless driving comes down to more than just speeding. Most car accident cases that involve reckless driving don’t involve speed at all, or pair another reckless behavior with speeding. Some other factors that may indicate reckless driving include:
- Failure to scan for pedestrians;
- Driving in the wrong area (i.e. the middle of the road);
- Improper or illegal passing;
- Driving through crowded areas with minimal regard for space; and
- Disregarding the presence of children.
If you notice a reckless driver on the road, contact local authorities immediately. Reckless driving can prove deadly for those who find themselves in a reckless driver’s path. Some notable examples of Florida cases concerning reckless driving include:
- Santisteban v. State, in which a driver operating a gasoline truck filled with 9,000 gallons of fuel traveled around curved roads at highway speeds.
- Martinez vs. State, in which an individual drove more than forty miles per hour over the speed limit and passed another driver in a no-passing zone.
- Lewek vs. State, in which a driver operated their vehicle with a missing lug nut and a worn-down tire tread whilst speeding and running red lights.
Aggressive Driving and Road Rage
Experiencing another driver’s aggressive behavior or road rage can be terrifying. Not only does the individual have the potential to harm you and others in your vehicle, but they may want to do so. These behaviors can lead to injuries or death for those around the aggressive driver and even the aggressive driver themselves.
Studies conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that almost 80 percent of U.S. drivers reported expressing road rage behind the wheel at least once in the past twelve months. This is just one reason why the practice is so dangerous. We all face an inherent risk of falling victim to our emotions at any time. While many of us manage to avoid causing a scene, some drivers insist on escalating these situations.
Previous research has also indicated that more than half of fatal motor vehicle accidents can be traced back to potentially aggressive driving behavior. While it may not always be the deciding factor in a crash, this practice greatly increases the risk of motor vehicle accidents. Unsafe, erratic, and aggressive driving behaviors leave angry drivers and those around them with little room for error.
Recognize the signs of aggressive driving and road rage before they get out of hand. Whether you need to take a breather for yourself, remind a driver in the vehicle with you about the rules of the road, or avoid another vehicle altogether, it might be due to:
- Excessive speeding;
- Running red lights;
- Weaving in and out of traffic or pedestrians;
- Excessive lane changing or blocking cars that attempt to change lanes;
- Cursing, obscene gestures, yelling;
- Throwing objects;
- Ramming; or
- Forcing other drivers off of the road.
Poor Weather and Road Conditions
Poor weather and road conditions often contribute to car accidents. In some cases, these are the source of crashes that would have never happened otherwise. In other scenarios, lack of visibility or bumpy roads can add to the problems listed above. Drivers already experiencing road rage may be angered further by excessive potholes or poorly-marked construction zones; those who are inebriated and struggling to maintain awareness of their surroundings may be hindered further by inclement weather.
Avoid circumstances that you know make it difficult to drive. You’re safer taking a longer alternate route to the office if it means avoiding a messy construction zone. If you are having trouble navigating an area yourself, chances are that the drivers around you aren’t faring much better.
This is another reason why poor driving conditions can prove so dangerous. Issues like drunk driving or speeding are dangerous for everybody on the road, but they only directly impact how one driver operates their vehicle.
If an area is difficult to navigate or the weather is making it difficult to see more than a few feet, most of the drivers around you are likely to experience difficulties, even if they are not otherwise impaired. This results in every driver being confused, on-edge, and potentially frustrated. Never mind the fact that this can stoke road rage and aggression. It’s not worth it to drive in conditions that keep you from operating your vehicle safely. Avoid accidents and anger and opt for other solutions instead.
If You Were in a Car Accident, an Attorney Can Help
Sometimes, all the knowledge in the world can’t help prevent a car accident. Many accident victims find themselves enduring immense physical and emotional suffering thanks to the negligence of drivers around them. If this rings true for you or a family member, you’ll be well-served by contacting an experienced and trustworthy car accident attorney.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765