According to the CDC, motor vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of unintentional injuries in the U.S. Unfortunately, many people could avoid these incidents by exercising reasonable care behind the wheel.
Learning the most common causes of car accidents is an instructive exercise. It can help you avoid the behaviors that typically result in collisions, protecting yourself, passengers, and other road users.
It can also help you identify when another driver may be engaging in negligent or dangerous conduct so that you can keep your distance and avoid a crash.
Distracted Driving and Inattention
Distracted driving is one of the most frequent causes of auto accidents. In the U.S., it results in over 3,000 fatalities and 424,000 injuries each year. Roughly 20% of people killed in distracted driving crashes are outside the vehicle, such as bicyclists and pedestrians.
Distracted drivers include those who do the following behind the wheel:
- Eat or drink
- Text or use their cell phone
- Adjust mirrors or radio controls
- Rubberneck or look at the scenery
- Apply makeup
- Deal with children or pets
Basically, any behavior that takes your attention away from driving – whether visually, manually, or cognitively – counts as a distraction.
Speeding and Driving Too Fast for Current Conditions
Most people know they can receive a traffic citation if they’re caught speeding. However, many drivers don’t consider the dangers of driving too fast.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 12,000 people lost their lives due to speeding in 2021. These crashes have accounted for around one-third of all traffic-related fatalities for over two decades.
Speeding is a dangerous driving behavior because of it:
- Increases stopping distance
- Results in more severe accidents and injuries due to the high impact
- Creates more potential to lose control of the vehicle
- Reduces the effectiveness of safety protection equipment, like airbags and seat belts
Speeding doesn’t only refer to exceeding the posted speed limit. It can also mean driving too fast for traffic or weather conditions.
Impaired or Fatigued Driving
Drunk driving should never happen, and everyone knows (or should know) that it’s wrong. However, statistics show that approximately 37 people in the U.S. lose their lives daily in DUI accidents. That’s over 13,500 yearly fatalities that should have never occurred.
It’s no secret that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can impair your thinking and reaction time. However, some people fail to realize that drowsy driving can produce similar effects as impaired driving.
In fact, you are three times more likely to be involved in a traffic accident if you drive while fatigued. Drowsy driving results in over 800 deaths and 50,000 injuries annually.
Failing to Follow the State’s Right-of-Way Laws
All states implement right-of-way laws to guide drivers as to when they must yield and when they have the go-ahead to proceed. Failure to abide by these regulations often results in intersection crashes, which can cause severe injuries.
Failure to yield can include:
- Not stopping at a traffic light or stop sign
- Turning left across oncoming traffic
- Turning right in front of an oncoming vehicle
- Proceeding into a crosswalk while pedestrians or cyclists are present
It’s important to review your state’s traffic laws to ensure you understand who has the right-of-way in various situations. When in doubt, allow others to proceed to avoid a collision.
Reckless Driving Behaviors
Reckless or aggressive driving is typically broadly defined under state laws as operating a vehicle with a conscious disregard for others’ safety.
This can encompass many different types of behavior, such as:
- Excessive speeding or street racing
- Tailgating (following too closely)
- Brake checking
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Dangerous lane changes, passes or turns
Any of these actions can lead to debilitating car accidents – and even criminal consequences, in some circumstances.
A Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You Recover Fair Compensation After a Crash
Now that you know some of the most common causes of car crashes, you can take steps to avoid behaviors that lead to them. You can also use this information to drive defensively and evaluate other people sharing the road.
For example, if you see someone driving in an aggressive manner, keep your distance and consider calling local authorities to report the conduct. This could prevent you and other road users from being injured or killed.
In the unfortunate event that you’re involved in a collision, contact an experienced car accident attorney for assistance. They’ll help you with insurance claims and assert your legal right to compensation.