Every year, more than 2 million people sustain injuries from auto accidents in the U.S. alone. With so many accidents happening every year, you want to ensure you’re safe on the road.
The first and biggest safety tip you can follow is to always wear your seatbelt. That way, even if you’re in an accident, you have a higher chance of surviving it.
Below we’ll review the top causes of car accidents and how to prevent them. With this information, you’ll be able to make smarter and safer choices.
1. Distracted Driving
Distractions are all around you while you’re driving. Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents today.
It may sound simple, but to prevent these types of accidents, pay attention to what is going on around you. Not only do you need to look at what’s going on ahead of you, but to the sides and behind you. Make sure to look through your rearview and side mirrors regularly.
Moreover, try not to multi-task while driving. For example, you shouldn’t text, eat, read, apply makeup, et cetera. If you need to do any of these activities, it’s advised that you stop driving to complete these tasks.
2. Impaired Driving
Impaired driving can be drunk driving (DWI) or driving with some form of drugs in your system (DUI). About 44% of car accidents happen due to impaired driving.
While you can’t control other drivers, you can control what you do. If you’re impaired, take a taxi home instead. If you have a friend with you, give them your keys and have them drive (if they aren’t impaired).
The best way you can avoid impaired driving is to make a plan. Have a designated driver for the night that you know won’t be drinking and can get you home safely.
Speeding will decrease your reaction time, even if you’re going 10 miles over the speed limit. If something happens on the road (e.g. a car abruptly stops in front of you), you may not be able to stop or get out of the way in time.
To prevent this type of accident, the best thing you can do is follow the speed limits posted on the side of the road.
4. Reckless Driving
Reckless driving can encompass many different actions. It generally means the disregard you show for the safety of others (those around you and in the vehicle with you). Examples include road rage, changing lanes too quickly, racing, and eluding the police.
Patience is the key to prevent this kind of behavior. Don’t let aggression or impatience cloud your judgment.
Snow, ice, fog, and especially rain can create serious accidents. Each year, about 21% of car accidents are weather-related. Rain, snow, and ice can make the roads slippery. You may not have as much control over your vehicle.
With snow, fog, and rain, depending on how heavy they are, your visibility may be impaired.
When dealing with bad weather, you should drive slower and try to be more alert. If the weather is bad enough, you may need to stop the car and wait it out. Moreover, if you know the weather will be bad, it may be a good day to stay home.
6. Running Red Lights
Even if you don’t think you see other cars, you should always stop at a red light. If another car is coming from a different direction, there is a good chance the two of you will collide.
What’s more, you should always look both ways before you start driving once the light turns green. Others may not practice safe driving like you.
7. Night Driving
Driving at night impairs how much you can see.
When you’re driving down roads with no other cars or lights around, make sure to have your high beams on. This helps you to see more. This is especially true if you’re in areas where animals regularly cross the road.
At night you need to be even more attentive. If it starts to get very late (e.g. 2-3 a.m.), you may even want to slow down a little so you don’t have any surprises.
If you’re driving down roads with other cars, make sure to alternate your high beams being on and off. When your high beams are on and another car comes down the road you could end up blinding them. They won’t be able to see the road and it could lead to an accident.
8. Teenage Drivers
Teenagers are at the beginning phase of learning the rules of the road. They don’t have the experience and aren’t as attentive as experienced drivers.
If you’re the one in the car with a teenager, make sure they’re free from all distractions. Make certain they’re paying attention to the road and following the rules of the road (e.g. not speeding).
Tailgating is when someone decides to follow behind a car closer than they’re supposed to. It can be frustrating when someone is driving slow, but driving close to them won’t get them to drive faster.
You may feel like you’re saving more time. Yet, in actuality, you’re increasing your odds of getting into an accident.
If the car in front of you needs to stop abruptly you’ll hit their car as you won’t have enough time to react. At this point, you’ll be the one held liable.
Make sure to travel at a safe distance behind the car in front of you to prevent accidents from happening. What’s more, try to be patient with the person driving in front of you. Don’t let frustration cloud your judgment.
When you’re tired it will reduce your reaction time while you’re on the road. This is doubly true if you start falling asleep behind the wheel. If you start veering into the other lane or an animal jumps out, you may not be able to react in time.
If you’re tired, your best bet is to pull over and take a nap. You should only need 20-30 minutes. After, you should be alert enough to get yourself back to the safety of your home.
If this is a normal occurrence you may need to change your sleeping habits.
These Are Just the Top Causes of Car Accidents
Sadly, there are many more reasons car accidents can happen. We have only included the top causes of car accidents. It’s always important to practice safe driving and to remain alert. A smart driver is a safe driver.
If you happen to be in a car accident, review our blog on the next steps to take.
Mark Dana has been practicing in Rhode Island for over 25 years. He has handled hundreds of cases in courthouses throughout the state. Due to Attorney Dana’s knowledge and reputation, he can often be seen appearing as the legal commentator for NBC 10 in Providence.