Driving a car is a major responsibility and it isn’t one that should be taken lightly. Vehicles are dangerous pieces of machinery for even experienced drivers. The last thing anybody wants is to be involved in a life-changing car accident that leaves a person with debilitating injuries in the long-run. The best way to avoid this is to learn about the common dangers of car accidents, along with how to avoid car accidents, to stay safe on the road.
How Common Are Car Accidents?
Car accidents are extremely common on a global basis, with an estimated 1.35 million people dying annually as a result of wrecks. This averages out to over 3,000 people dying on a daily basis from car accidents around the world. In the United States alone there are an average of five million car accidents on a yearly basis and around 40,000 deaths, going to show just how common car accidents are. In fact, car accidents are now the eighth leading cause of death for all age groups globally.
What is the Risk of Injury in a Car Accident?
While a person may believe that they won’t be injured in a car accident, there is a sizeable risk in every single car accident that occurs. To that point, 43% of car accidents result in injury which means that four accident-related injuries occur every minute. Even small fender benders have the potential to cause injury on the road, which makes identifying the leading causes of car accidents all the more important.
5 Leading Causes for Car Accidents in the United States
While there can be a variety of common factors triggering multi-vehicle accidents, the following five causes are among the most prominent to keep in mind:
1. Driving under the influence
Nobody should get behind the wheel when they are under the influence of anything that impairs their ability to drive and operate heavy machinery. Unfortunately, a large portion of car accidents are caused by drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Should you see a driver swerving or maneuvering their vehicle in such a way that they appear to be under the influence, be sure to give them space on the road and report the incident.
2. Distracted driving
Driving while checking your phone, eating a meal, or even being involved in a heated argument is never a great idea. All drivers should have their full attention on the road anytime they get behind the wheel, rather than getting distracted by trivial things.
3. Driving in unusual weather conditions
Different types of weather can result in different road conditions that a driver is unfamiliar with. This can lead to an accident in many situations as a driver may not leave enough following distance between them and other vehicles, or they may not have prepared their vehicle to handle the weather they are in.
4. Reckless driving
Another extremely common cause of car accidents on the road is reckless driving where people disobey traffic laws. Whether it’s speeding, running a stop sign or red light, or breaking some other traffic law, reckless driving can account for a large number of accidents.
5. Getting behind the wheel while tired
Drowsy driving is another major leading cause of car accidents in the United States that is easily preventable. Whether it’s going on a long road trip or even making a trip to the store late at night, avoid ever getting behind the wheel of a car when you don’t feel as if you are completely awake.
Top Tips for Avoiding a Car Accident
Understanding the common causes for a car accident is only half the battle. One of the best ways to avoid a car accident altogether is to simply use the following tips which greatly reduce the risk of a wreck occurring:
Scan the Road Ahead of You
One of the best tips anybody can use to prevent an accident is the 12-second rule of the road. This involves scanning the road twelve seconds ahead of your vehicle so that you have ample time to react if something is in the road. The best way to gauge how far twelve seconds may be ahead of you is to start counting once you reach a milestone on the road, then stop once you hit twelve seconds.
Leave Space Between Cars
Building off of the former rule, all drivers should also follow the three-to-four second rule of the road. This means leaving at least three-to-four seconds of space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. By doing this, you will maximize the amount of time you have to react if the person in front of you slams on the brakes.
Handle Any Distractions Before Leaving
Check your phone and send any texts you need to send before ever putting your car into drive. For those who have gotten take-out, opt to eat your food prior to getting on the open road rather than eating while you are driving. Should things get heated in your vehicle and an argument is beginning, consider pulling your vehicle over to the side of the road to handle the issue.
Switch Drivers on Long Journeys
For those embarking on a road trip, always focus on switching drivers every four-to-five hours on average. The people in the front seat spots should always stay awake while the people in the backseat take the time to recover and sleep.
Protect yourself and others on the road
As a driver, you have an inherent duty of care to yourself and others on the road that requires exercising caution at all times behind the wheel. With that said, a person can only control their own actions and not the actions of others, which is why learning to spot the signs that a car accident may be about to occur is so important. In the event you are involved in a car accident caused by the negligence of another person, reach out to a car accident lawyer who can assist you with your situation.