Millions of traffic accidents occur in the United States alone each year, with a large, but not surprising, majority of them resulting from poor choices made by drivers. In this article we’ll be taking a look at the four most common causes of traffic accidents and some of the statistics behind them.
Reckless Driving includes things such as speeding, failing to use turn signals, cutting off other drivers, and running red lights and stop signs. Out of every cause of car accidents in the US, speeding is number one. Not only does speeding account for the majority of accidents, but it’s also responsible for 30% of all fatal accidents. This isn’t just because speeding is dangerous in itself, but because people who are speeding are also likely to be engaged in one or more of the other unsafe practices on this list.
As for the other forms of reckless driving, not using your turn signals and cutting off other drivers often go hand in hand. If you don’t properly signal your intent to turn or merge, other drivers around you won’t be prepared to give you the space you need. As for running red lights and stop signs, this is even more unpredictable for other drivers than not using your turn signals. All drivers are expected to follow these laws, so when someone breaks them it’s often unexpected by everyone else involved.
After reckless driving, distracted driving is the next largest cause of traffic accidents. This section includes using cell phones, eating and drinking (non-alcohol), messing with the radio or other systems within the vehicle, talking to passengers, and looking at roadside accidents. The scary thing about distracted driving is that chances are you’ve done all of these things within the past week without thinking anything of them.
Cell phone use is the largest category in this section and accounts for 25% of all traffic accidents. This includes texting, talking, and using various other functions of your phone. While many of us know the dangers of texting, it may come as a surprise that talking on the phone, or with passengers in the same vehicle, is still considered distracted driving. Anything which takes your full attention away from the road ahead of you and your surroundings is a distraction, which means doing things with your hands, such as eating or changing the radio station, are still distractions even if your eyes are on the road. And while it may be tempting to look at a roadside accident, this is a great way to end up in an accident of your own.
Driving Under the Influence
While the previous two sections cover more of the total number of traffic accidents, driving under the influence makes up the majority of fatal accidents. When under the influence, drivers are prone to both reckless and distracted driving practices, while also having severely impaired reflexes. Alcohol alone is a contributing factor in nearly 40% of all fatal car crashes. However, driving under the influence doesn’t just include alcohol, it also includes driving under the influence of drugs as well, even legal ones if they impair your judgement.
While fatigue due to a lack of sleep isn’t a form of drug or alcohol, it has the same effect on your body. There’s a reason why large truck drivers are required to get a certain amount of sleep each night between their shifts on the road. Not only does fatigue increase your likelihood of falling asleep at the wheel, but it impairs your reflexes and judgement as well.
Weather conditions account for 22% of all crashes, meaning that cell phone use alone is more of a problem. It’s also important to remember that there would likely be less traffic accidents due to weather if more people slowed down when the weather was poor instead of continuing to speed. Weather conditions include things such as rain, snow, and fog, but other road conditions such as potholes and construction make up this section as well.
Regardless of which hazardous road condition you’re driving through, it’s important to remember that driving safely is more important than driving quickly. In fact, even if you’re going the regular speed limit, you can still receive a speeding ticket if it’s in poor conditions and you should have been traveling slower to compensate. Rain and snow make roads more slippery, and it doesn’t take much to have an extreme effect on the traction of your tires. Even if you think you’re in control, it doesn’t take much water on the road for your tires to lose grip around a turn or fail to stop your vehicle fast enough when you hit the brakes.
Traffic accidents are extremely common occurrences due to the sheer number of vehicles on US roadways. And as you can see, we’re to blame for a large portion of them. There will always be crashes as long as there are cars, but by observing the laws of the road you can drastically reduce the chances of being added to these statistics. Remember to never drive under the influence, drive recklessly, or drive while distracted. And if the road conditions aren’t optimal, it doesn’t hurt to be extra cautious.
Luckily the vast majority of accidents aren’t fatal, but that doesn’t mean damage isn’t done. Even if you’re unharmed, the same likely isn’t true for your car. That’s where Zingani Collision comes in. Since 1996 we’ve been fixing cars damaged in various kinds of accidents and getting them back on the road both quickly and safely. If your car has been damaged in a traffic accident, call us today to receive your free estimate!