Car accidents are, unfortunately, all-too-common and often have tragic results. For example, there are two million injuries in the U.S. every year and 32,000 deaths because of motor vehicle accidents.
While it’s not always the case, the majority of car accidents are preventable.
You can’t necessarily control the actions of other people on the road, but even just recognizing the level of control you do have is important. Being able to identify the risks and employing defensive driving techniques are all ways you can reduce your risk of being in an accident.
The following are important things to know as far as the preventability of car accidents.
Research shows that an estimated 90% of motor vehicle crashes are caused, at least partially by human error.
This is contrary to what you might believe. For example, it’s untrue that mechanical failure, road design, or even weather account for anywhere to close to the majority of car accidents.
The disastrous results of human error on the roadway are part of what’s prompting a push for deployment of more automated and self-driving technology.
According to the NHTSA, if there had been more self-driving technology available in 2016, it could have saved 35,000 lives and eliminated many other injuries.
Cars are increasingly being equipped with technology that helps them avoid unsafe lane changes and lane-drift. There’s also new technology that applies the car’s brakes automatically if the car in front of them comes to a sudden stop or slows down suddenly.
There are sensors in many new cars that help drivers avoid safety risks, including pedestrians.
There are specific factors that contribute to most preventable accidents as well.
Distracted driving is completely preventable and is also the biggest contributor to roadway accidents in the United States. It causes more crashes each year than drunk driving, speeding, and other major contributing causes.
Distracted driving is the biggest risk factor, not just for cars but also big trucks.
Main causes of distracted driving include using a phone while behind the wheel and eating or drinking.
There is some concern that the technology many cars are being equipped with, along with the elaborate infotainment systems could actually increase the risk of distracted driving.
Drunk driving, along with distracted driving, is one of the major causes of car accidents. Drunk driving accidents are more likely on holidays and weekends.
When you drink even a small amount of alcohol and then drive, it can reduce your ability to focus on driving, and it can also impair your response time.
Every state has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of 0.08, and after that point, drivers are considered to be driving under the influence of alcohol.
The big problem is that people may incorrectly believe that they’re sober enough to drive, and it may be because the alcohol has impaired their ability to think rationally.
Regardless of the specifics, any accident involving alcohol or drugs is avoidable.
It’s also important to note that while we think about alcohol being the most common substance leading to car accidents, others can as well.
For example, being under the influence of marijuana or prescription drugs can also lead to preventable car accidents.
Speeding happens every day on roadways across the country. You may speed because you’re distracted and not even noticing you’re doing it. You might also speed because you’re late, and you need to be somewhere.
Regardless of why you’re speeding, the faster you drive a vehicle, the more likely you are to lose control if you face an unexpected situation.
When you stay within the speed limits, you’re reducing the risk to yourself, your passengers, and others on the road.
Along with speeding, there are many other examples of reckless or aggressive driving that can lead to car accidents, and all of these examples can be avoided.
For example, making illegal U-turns, tailgating, or changing lanes without using your signal are all things that frequently happen on the road, but can also contribute to accidents.
Abruptly speeding up or slowing down can be considered aggressive driving too.
Not Following Traffic Signals
Traffic signals are in place for a reason, and not following them is going to put you at greater risk for being in an accident.
For example, not stopping for red lights or stop signs can up the chances of being in an accident.
When you run a red light, it can lead to a T-bone accident. T-bone accidents can be especially dangerous or deadly.
Driving While Tired
According to the NHTSA, drowsy driving leads to more than 6,000 deaths each year.
Even being just a little fatigued can significantly increase the chances of being in a serious accident.
In any given 30-day period, it’s estimated that one in 25 drivers fall asleep behind the wheel.
When you’re tired, the effects on driving can be similar to the effects of using a substance.
For example, being fatigued can slow your reaction time, reduce your level of vigilance, and also impair your focus and concentration.
If you notice signs that you’re tired, such as yawning or blinking a lot, you should pull over or avoid driving.
Driving At Night or in the Rain
Driving at night reduces your visibility and it’s harder to avoid any obstacles on the road. Avoiding nighttime driving is the safest option. If you do have to drive at night, make sure you’re focused and alert, and if you’re on an empty road, use your high beams.
Rain isn’t your fault, but if you can avoid driving in it, it’s also safest. Rain can change roadway conditions increasing your risk of slipping, and it can also reduce your visibility.
If you do have to drive in the rain, be extremely cautious.
Again, you can’t control the behaviors of others on the road. What you can do is be aware of the riskiest situations, try to avoid them, and practice defensive driving to combat the preventable mistakes of others.