It’s true that car accidents can occur at any moment, and you can’t always be prepared for them. It’s also true that there are about 11 million car accidents each year. However, it’s not true that car accidents are wholly unpreventable.
In many cases, they are very preventable. One of the most important things is knowing the chief causes of car accidents so you can take steps to be a safer, more responsible driver.
Here are some of the most prevalent causes of accidents.
- Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is a blanket term that covers a lot of behaviors that can take your eyes and mind off of the road. It can be eating, playing with the radio, applying makeup, reaching in the back seat, or even fiddling with your seat belt.
One of the most common and dangerous types of distracted driving is phone use. While many cars have hands-free calling, it can still take your attention off the road and should be used with caution, especially on busy roadways.
Texting is a huge concern, particularly for the younger generation. About 42 percent of teens admit to texting while driving, and it’s a leading cause of death in teens.
Limiting distractions while you’re driving, particularly phone use, is key to safer driving.
You know the feeling: You’re running late, and you can’t help but inch up the speedometer to make up for lost time. Most drivers admit to speeding at some point while driving, and even a few miles over the speed limit can increase your chances for an accident.
Typically, the faster you go, the higher your risk will be for causing an accident. If you’re going 30 miles over the speed limit, you’re more likely to lose control over a curve or rear-end someone. This is even more of a concern when you’re driving in high traffic or adverse weather conditions.
No matter how late you are, don’t give in to the temptation of speeding. Your reflexes and brakes probably aren’t as good as you think they are, and your reckless driving could cause a serious accident someday.
- Drunk Driving
Of course, driving while under the influence is a very serious crime because of the number of lives it has cost. About 10,500 people die annually in alcohol-impaired accidents, and they’re the cause of 28 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the U.S.
You know the dangers of drunk driving, so don’t get behind the wheel when you’ve been drinking. If you’re planning to go out for a few drinks, have a plan to return home safely, whether it’s a designated driver or an Uber.
- Bad Weather
Rain, snow, hail, high winds, and other adverse conditions cause accidents. In many cases, these accidents are entirely beyond your control. You might hit a patch of black ice or hydroplane in heavy rain.
While you can’t always avoid such accidents, there are things you can do to prepare. Start by learning how to drive safely in snow and rain. Driving below the speed limit, learning to regain control of a spinning car, and defensively driving are all essentials when the weather is bad.
You can also check the weather and roadway reports before heading out to make sure it’s safe to drive. Sometimes it’s better to cancel your plans and stay home than it is to try to drive in adverse road conditions.
- Fatigued Driving
Tired drivers are a danger to any roadway. In fact, several studies have shown that fatigued driving is just as bad, if not worse, than drunk driving. It’s the cause of one in every ten automobile crashes.
Try not to get behind the wheel if you’re tired. If it’s unavoidable, consider eating sunflower seeds or singing to the radio to stay awake. When possible, let an alert driver take over.
Again, you may not want to delay your plans just because you’re tired, but don’t get behind the wheel. Make plans for alternate forms of transportation or delay your trip while you take a much-needed nap.
- Ignoring Traffic Signals
Traffic signals and signs serve an extremely important purpose, and when everyone obeys those signs, the roads are a much safer place. Those who ignore them tend to cause accidents, but people in a hurry still choose to run red lights and stop signs, putting themselves in dangerous situations.
Plenty of drivers tend to ignore yield signs or yellow lights. They believe these signals mean “go faster,” and it can lead to accidentally running a red light and causing an accident.
The power of safe driving lies in your hands. Obeying traffic laws, slowing down, and not getting behind the wheel unless you’re fit to drive can make the world a better, safer place.