According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, nearly six million car accidents occur annually, leading to roughly 40,000 fatalities. The majority of these motor vehicle accidents are caused by poor driving behavior. Recent data collected by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey” concluded that not staying in your own lane is the reason behind about one-third of all crashes.

Survey Results

After failing to keep your vehicle in its lane, the survey found:

  • Rear-ending, as a result of following too close, is responsible for 23 to 30 percent of all crashes.
  • Improper left-turns make up 12 percent of all crashes.
  • Losing control accounts for 11 percent of all accidents.
  • Falling asleep behind the wheel is responsible for seven percent of all crashes and 21 percent of all fatal crashes.
  • Running red lights accounts for six percent of all pedestrian fatalities.

Additionally, 36 percent of all pre-crash events happen when a driver is turning at an intersection or crossing one.

As you can see, human error factors into a large percentage of these accidents. Beyond these recent results, most causes for car accidents fall into the following categories.

1. Distracted Driving

This broad category – encompassing everything from talking to passengers to cell phone use and eating – has been the leading cause of car accidents and continues to grow as a hazard. In fact, according to the National Safety Council (NSC), cell phone use is responsible for 25% of all crashes. That figure doesn’t take into account grooming, applying makeup, reading or looking away from the wheel.

Why do drivers continue to be distracted? Most believe they can multitask while behind the wheel, but the brain tends to focus very briefly on individual tasks. As a result, a multitasking driver does not always immediately recognize a road hazard and unfortunately may not react in enough time to avoid hitting it.

2. Speeding

Many drivers exceed the speed limit on a highway but the faster you go, the slower your reaction time and the greater the chance you’ll get into an accident. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, younger drivers are more likely to speed than older ones. Combined with a lack of experience and poor weather, this behavior frequently leads to vehicle crashes.

3. Drunk and Drugged Driving

Whether you’ve been drinking or taking medication before you go out on the road, your ability to focus and perceive hazards greatly decreases in these instances. As a result, getting behind the wheel poses several dangers – not just to yourself but to other motorists. How are you affected?

Being under the influence of drugs decreases your reaction time, can blur your vision and leads to poor decision-making. Data from NHTSA indicates that alcohol is partially to blame for 40 percent of all car accident-related fatalities.

4. Bad Weather

Rain, snow and ice create a slick, dangerous surface for cars. Especially when the condition is not perceptible (i.e. black ice), drivers are less likely to approach with caution. As a result, driving in bad weather can cause you to skid, spin out of control or slide into another motorist.

5. Running Red Lights and Stop Signs

Whether you run a stop sign or a red light, the chance you will T-bone another vehicle or hit a pedestrian greatly increases. To avoid a side-impact collision – which can turn into a rollover accident – always wait until the light changes to green, then look both ways before proceeding.

6. Driving at Night

Due to decreased visibility, driving in the dark almost doubles your accident risk. In response, drivers should travel at slower speeds and give other motorists more space to anticipate what you cannot see. Those who drive recklessly and ignore their surroundings may find themselves colliding with another car, hitting a motorcycle or pedestrian or damaging property.

7. Tailgating

In driver’s education class, you’re told to give the car in front at least a three-second distance. Otherwise, you may not have enough time to apply your brakes if that driver stops suddenly. While many regard tailgating as an annoyance, doing it at high speeds is responsible for many fatalities.

8. Potholes

Potholes pose multiple dangers for motorists. For one, hitting one and bouncing back may cause you to lose control and accidentally hit another vehicle or property. The force of driving over a pothole can be so great that you even experience a tire blowout. A danger especially for larger vehicles, blowouts increase your chances of sliding around, tipping over or otherwise losing control. Should this happen, pull over to the side of the road and change the tire or call roadside assistance.

Major car accidents do happen, even to the safest drivers. If you need legal assistance to file a claim and receive fair compensation, get Trantolo & Trantolo’s team involved. To learn more about our services, give us a call today.