What Causes Most Car Accidents?

Feb 14, 2020 01:43 PM EST | Staff Reporter

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What Causes Most Car Accidents?


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Car accidents are a serious and scary problem in the United States. The average number of accidents in the U.S. each year is 6 million, and more than 90 people die in accidents every day. These accidents leave around three million injured a year, and two million people injured in car accidents each year are left with permanent injuries. 

There are some common reasons why car accidents happen, and while you can't prevent everything, you can reduce your risk of being in an accident if you know what these are and work to avoid these scenarios. 

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is one of the primary contributors to accidents, but it's also something many of us are guilty of daily. 

Every day more than nine people in the U.S. are killed because of distracted driving, and more than 1060 people are injured in crashes involving a distracted driver, yet one out of three people still report texting while driving.

You are 23 times more likely to crash if you're texting while you're behind the wheel, and driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity dedicated to driving by 37%. 

If you send or receive a text, it takes your eyes away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. 

Distracted driving isn't just using a smartphone. There are other ways you could be guilty of being distracted while you're on the road as well. 

Trying to find a song on the radio, looking at something happening on the side of the roadway, talking to your kids in the backseat, or reaching for something you've dropped are all examples of distracted driving. 

It's complex to operate a vehicle, and anything that's taking your attention away can lead to a tiny mistake that could end up contributing to a major crash. 

There is often a chain reaction that occurs with distracted driving, and once it's set into motion, you can't reverse the effects. 

Drowsy Driving

So many Americans are chronically fatigued and sleep-deprived, with around one-third of adults saying they don't get enough sleep on a regular basis. 

Drowsy driving is also more likely to occur when it's dark out at night or in the early morning, and that makes it more dangerous as well. 

When you're driving at night or in the early morning while it's still dark, it reduces your visibility and makes it harder to see potential hazards. You should always use your full lights if you're driving on a road without streetlights and stay vigilant. 

Many times people are driving while drowsy without even realizing it, and it can have the same effects as driving under the influence of certain drugs or alcohol. 

For example, if you're awake for a period of 18 hours, it can impair your driving as much as having a blood-alcohol level of 0.05%. 

If you feel you don't get enough sleep regularly or you're planning a road trip, keep this in mind. 

Making Improper Turns

There are a variety of reasons someone behind the wheel might make an improper term. For example, if you're at an intersection, you might make an improper turn because you don't understand who has the right-of-way or because you're distracted and not paying attention. 

There are also improper turns that can happen, and they aren't the driver's fault, but they're no less dangerous. 

For example, a traffic signal could fail leading a driver to inadvertently turn into the path of another oncoming vehicle. If a traffic light were out in the middle of the night, it could be particularly hazardous and increase the risk of an improper turn and other types of accidents. 

A similar risk to making improper turns is driving the wrong way on the road. 

If someone misses a one-way sign, it can be deadly. 

Car Defects

The potential risks that come with defective car components are something often overlooked by drivers, yet it's a culprit for many accidents. 

Some of the most common defects contributing to roadway accidents are airbag failures, blown tires, transmission slips, and brakes that don't work as they should. 

While recalls can help reduce these risks, often car manufacturers aren't aware there's an issue or don't do a recall until there have been a fairly high number of accidents or injuries. 

Poor Driving Conditions

Poor driving conditions account for many accidents, and these conditions are more likely to cause problems in northern states where there's a lot of snow and ice. Even if you don't live in a snowy area, wet roads, fog, or situations where there's a high glare can contribute to dangers on the roads. 

If you are in an accident because of the weather conditions, you'll still be held responsible by your insurance company if it's a single-car claim. 

Sometimes even just differences in temperatures can lead to dangerous potholes. 

Other Driving Risks

Along with the risks above, the following are other reasons people might get into accidents when they're on the road:

  • Animals crossing: If you've ever hit a deer or have seen someone hit a deer, you know how severe that can be. If you're in a rural or wooded area, you should be especially vigilant about the potential for animals to cross the road, and always use your high beams in these areas at night. 

  • Construction zones: A construction zone may be confusing for drivers, and that can create risks, particularly if a driver isn't paying attention. 

  • Inexperienced drivers: Teen drivers are often involved in accidents because they're either driving while distracted or they simply don't have the experience to navigate certain traffic situations as well as someone with more time spent behind the wheel. 

  • Speeding: Speeding can not only cost you financially, but it's also dangerous. It's the second-most common cause of accidents, so keep this in mind the next time you're in a hurry. 

These aren't even all of the reasons for car accidents. Others include reckless and aggressive driving and driving under the influence. Be careful when you're on the roadways and consider the situations above and how to avoid them. 

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