More than 36,000 people died in car accidents in 2019. Although this traffic statistic shows a small decrease in the number of deaths compared to the previous year, the shocking loss of life and $242 billion annual cost highlights how traffic safety is still a huge national concern.
In many cases, car accidents are a preventable and unnecessary tragedy. Even when driving conditions aren’t ideal or mechanical failure is to blame, the quick thinking and careful maneuvering of a conscientious and alert driver can mean the difference between a near miss and a fatal crash. And, while a lot of drivers do fall into this category, many others continue to violate traffic rules and engage in unsafe driving practices.
But what are the top causes of car accidents? Keep reading to learn the dangers to be aware of next time you’re on the road.
Distracted driving causes more than 3,000 deaths and 391,000 serious injuries every year. Despite our awareness of how distractions can impair reaction times and general judgment, many drivers continue to drive while distracted.
No doubt most of you have used your cell phone, fiddled with your GPS, or reached for a hot beverage while driving. Some drivers even admit to shaving and applying make-up while behind the wheel!
We’re not saying you have to avoid talking to passengers or playing music. But you should be aware that any task that takes your attention away from the road has the potential to cause an accident.
Speeding is one of the most common causes of traffic accidents. Not only does driving at an increased speed reduce the time you have to avoid a car accident, but it also increases the severity of injuries in the event of a crash.
And, as the increase in speed-related car accidents during the pandemic shows, speeding is no less dangerous on empty roads. Speed limits might feel too slow if there’s no traffic around, but you can still misjudge the situation or come up against an unexpected curve if you’re the only driver on the road. Remember, speeding limits are in place for a reason, and it’s your duty as a driver to follow them.
Every day, 29 people die in car accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver.
Drinking alcohol slows down your reaction times, causes you to misinterpret situations, and impairs your motor skills. Worse still, alcohol increases confidence and can make you think you’re more in control than you are.
Of course, the easiest way to avoid becoming another drunk driving traffic statistic is to avoid drinking and driving. Likewise, you should always use a designated driver or rely on taxis if you and your friends want to go out and drink.
The drowsiness that alcohol can cause once the initial buzz wears off also contributes to alcohol-impaired car accidents. Although, regular fatigue can also be dangerous when you’re behind the wheel.
The monotony of never-ending highways, especially at night, can take its toll on a weary driver. Drowsy driving causes 5,500 fatalities per year and accounts for 17 percent of all traffic deaths.
Blasting music, opening windows, and keeping hydrated can help stave off driver fatigue. But if you find yourself almost falling asleep at the wheel, pull over when it’s safe to do so and take a quick 30-minute power nap.
5Violating Traffic Rules
You don’t have to be drowsy, distracted, or drunk to cause a car accident. Driving mistakes and errors in judgment other than speeding – such as failing to signal or running a red light – can all be a lot more dangerous than most drivers realize.
Whether it’s due to inexperience or complacency, the many drivers who make these mistakes often fail to consider the consequences that their actions could have out on the road.
Ignoring traffic rules isn’t just risky, it causes almost 2,000 fatal accidents each year. And that traffic statistic doesn’t even include the thousands of fatal car and motorbike accidents caused by making improper turns, driving the wrong way, or general careless driving.
While bad weather is a common cause of car accidents, it doesn’t have to be snowing for driving conditions to become problematic for motorists. Even strong sunlight can impair a driver’s vision, while mist and fog can obscure other vehicles, traffic lights, and pedestrians.
It’s not surprising, then, that 21 percent of car accidents involve inclement weather. Rain and the wet road conditions it causes are the most hazardous for drivers, although sleet, snow, and ice all contribute to an increased probability of having a car accident.
To reduce the impact that adverse weather conditions have on your driving abilities, make sure to slow down and maintain a greater distance from the cars in front. The extra time this distance buys you could make all the difference if you lose visibility or control for a second or two.
Driving can be stressful, but allowing the discourtesies of other drivers to get to you is a recipe for disaster. Likewise, impatience, anger, and competitiveness on the road can be distracting and dangerous, with the resulting aggressive driving causing as many as 13,000 car accidents per year.
Road rage incidents have increased by 400 percent since 1990 so this is something to be aware of when you’re on the road. Common signs of an aggressive driver are tailgating, excessive lane-changing, speeding, and failing to yield. If you find yourself on the road with an aggressive driver, remain calm and avoid interacting with them in any way.
Improve Your Traffic Safety Awareness
Most drivers think they have a good handle on traffic safety and how to avoid a car accident. But these common causes of accidents show just how easy it is to become yet another traffic statistic.
Most of these drivers thought they were in control of the situation and knew what they were doing too. Now, it’s time to learn from their mistakes and do better, especially when operating a 4,000 lb piece of machinery.
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