Car accidents continue to be an unfortunate reality, despite the fact that today’s motor vehicles are safer than ever. Even though newer cars are equipped with advanced safety features, like collision avoidance systems, anti-lock brakes, and blind spot warning, technology cannot prevent motorists from engaging in unsafe driving behaviors, like distracted driving, drunk driving, and speeding. These dangerous driving actions are among the most common causes of serious car accidents in the United States. In fact, distracted driving is the number one cause of car accidents.
You have probably seen motorists talking or texting on their phone when their attention should be fully focused on the road. While texting and talking on the phone is one of the main causes of distracted driving, any behavior or act that takes your attention away from the road is considered a distraction. That includes reaching for something in the back seat, eating, entering information on the navigation system, or trying to calm a crying baby in the back seat.
In 2019 alone, 3,142 people lost their lives in distracted driving accidents, and many more suffered serious injuries, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Teenagers and young adults are the age group most likely to drive while distracted.
If you have a better understanding of the common causes of car accidents, you can take proactive steps to drive defensively and reduce the risk of being involved in a serious accident. In addition to distracted driving, the following are some of the most common causes of car accidents.
Many people continue to get behind the while after consuming too much alcohol, despite knowing the dangers. Even a small amount of alcohol can affect your coordination, cognitive functions, and ability to react to an unexpected situation.
Drunk driving accidents are not as common as distracted driving accidents, but they tend to be more serious and often cause fatalities, particularly if the drunk driver was speeding at the time of the accident. If you know you are going to be drinking, pick a designated driver or arrange for a ride home with a rideshare service, like Uber or Lyft.
While drowsy driving is not generally considered as serious as drunk driving, the NHTSA found that drowsy driving was responsible for over 91,000 car accidents, 50,000 injuries, and close to 800 fatalities in 2017. Drowsiness can affect judgement, decision-making, coordination, and reaction times in much the same way that alcohol can. If you start to feel symptoms of drowsiness, including frequent blinking, yawning, trouble focusing, hitting rumble strips, or missing exits, pull over to a safe, well-lit spot and take a 20-minute nap.
Most motorists exceed the speed limit by five or ten miles per hour at some point, whether they are running late for work, anxious to arrive at their destination, or they are simply impatient. However, speed limits are put in place for a reason.
The faster you drive, the less time you will have to react to another vehicle or a change in road conditions, which will increase the risk of an accident. In addition, if you are speeding when the accident occurs, the resulting injuries are likely to be much more severe.
Examples of reckless driving include excessive speeding, tailgating, weaving in and out of lanes, cutting off other drivers, and generally disregarding the safety of other motorists. This type of behavior can quickly become very dangerous and result in a serious accident. If you notice another driver engaging in any type of reckless driving behavior, change lanes, and put space between you and the other driver.
This occurs when an angry or aggressive driver becomes enraged and directs verbal insults or physical threats to another driver. In extreme cases, an angry motorist may become violent and try to run the other driver off the road. This is extremely dangerous behavior and should be reported to the police as soon as possible.
Running Red Lights
While you may be tempted to speed through an intersection as a traffic light turns from yellow to red, this is extremely dangerous. When the light turns yellow, slow down and prepare to stop. If you try to speed through a light that just turned red and a vehicle coming from the opposite direction hits the gas, this could result in a serious collision. Even if you are in a rush or running late, never drive through a red light or ignore a stop sign.
If a motorist is driving in an unfamiliar area or the road signs are poorly marked, they could end up driving in the wrong direction. For example, if a one-way sign is blocked by overgrown trees or weeds, a driver could enter a highway on-ramp going in the wrong direction. This can have devastating consequences if the driver is involved in a head-on collision.
In addition to following the speed limit and stopping at intersections, it is important that all drivers signal and use the appropriate lanes when making a turn. In addition, when making left turns, always yield to the vehicle who has the right-of-way.
Rain, ice, snow, and sun glare can cause driving conditions to become challenging and even dangerous. Always check the weather report any time you are going to be driving and take the necessary safety precautions, like reducing your speed, increasing your following distance, and keeping your attention focused on the road ahead.
How Do I Avoid a Car Accident?
While you cannot control the weather or the way other motorists drive, you can take the following proactive steps to keep yourself safe while you are driving:
- Avoid distractions. Put the phone away, and keep your attention focused on the road ahead. Limit the number of passengers in your vehicle, especially if you are a newly licensed driver. Avoid reaching for items on the floor or in the back seat.
- Do not drink and drive. Drunk driving is one of the leading causes of fatal car accidents, yet it is completely avoidable. Even a small amount of alcohol can cause impairments that can lead to serious accidents. In addition, a drunk driving conviction can involve steep fines, jail time, a suspended license, and increased insurance premiums.
- Obey the speed limit. Motorists are more likely to speed if they are running late or they are in a rush to get somewhere. Avoid speeding by giving yourself plenty of time to get where you are going. If you find yourself hitting the gas pedal, remember that a speeding ticket can cost you hundreds of dollars and cause you to lose points on your driver’s license.
- Avoid tailgating. Following too closely to the vehicle in front of you can cause a rear-end accident. To ensure that you are maintaining a safe following distance, always follow the three-second rule. Pick an object like a tree or a road sign up ahead. When the car in front of you reaches that object, start counting. If you reach that same object before you get to three, you are probably following too closely and should slow down.
- Always wear a seat belt. Seat belts are one of the most effective ways to keep you and your passengers safe in the event of an accident. In fact, it is estimated that over 14,950 lives were saved by seat belts in 2017 alone. Unfortunately, close to half of all people who were fatally injured in car accidents that year were not wearing their seat belts. Buckle up as soon as you get in the car, and do not drive until everyone in the car has their seat belt fastened.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Assist Clients With Car Accident Claims
If you were injured in a collision, do not hesitate to contact our Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC. Car accidents are caused by a number of factors, many of which are entirely preventable. Our dedicated legal team will thoroughly review the details of your case and determine who is responsible for the accident. Call us at 757-LAW-0000 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, we clients throughout Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore, Virginia. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.