There are an estimated 10 million car accidents that occur in the United States every year. Surprisingly, most accidents occur in clear weather and in broad daylight. Each accident has slightly different circumstances, but many of the same causes creep up again and again. The following is a quick list of the most common causes of car accidents in the United States.
1. Distracted Driving. The occurrence of accidents due to distracted driving has been increasing with the use of cell phones and other electronic devices. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 9 people are killed and over 1,153 people are injured in crashes that involve distracted driving every day in the United States.
2. Speeding. When you or those around you speed, the distance that the car needs to stop and the time it takes to stop increases. Injuries at higher speeds are much more serious—so slow down!
3. Drunk Driving. Some estimates state that there are roughly 300,000 people that drive drunk every day. According to one study published in 2011, roughly half of all drivers who are killed in car accidents tested positive for either drugs or alcohol. Drinking severely reduces reaction time and the ability to make sound judgments. Call a cab or a sober friend. Never drive impaired.
4. Reckless or Careless Driving. Drivers who are not aware of the people around them, who drive aggressively, or who simply do not think before they act on the road are extremely dangerous. Changing lanes without checking their blind spot, speeding, or tailgating can cause serious problems.
5. Poor Weather Conditions. Generally, how drivers react to weather conditions is really what causes accidents. When there are heavy rains, the road can become slick and it will become hard to see the road and those around you. If you cannot maintain control of your vehicle in these types of conditions, pull over and wait for the storm to pass. You should at least slow down, and be sure to turn on your lights!
6. Failing to Follow Road Signs. Although construction signs that change traffic patterns are likely the most difficult to follow, failing to follow even simple stop signs can cause serious accidents as well. Be alert for traffic signs and do not speed through yellow lights. Red always means stop and yellow means prepare to stop!
7. Inexperienced Drivers. For those who are just learning how to drive, the roads can be overwhelming. They have not yet mastered how to control their vehicle while also looking out for speed limits, road signs, pedestrians, and other vehicles. Inexperienced drivers often do not realize that they need to be extra careful while they acquire these skills.
8. Design Defects. When your vehicle has a design flaw, it can cause serious problems. It could cause you to completely lose control of the vehicle, from brake failure to acceleration problems. Fires in vehicles that have design defects also occur occasionally. If you know your car has been the subject of a recall, be sure to take it in to be repaired immediately. Safety should always be your number one concern.
9. Animal Crossings. Wild animals can be very dangerous, especially large animals like deer. Use extra caution when you encounter an animal crossing sign and be sure to use your high beams when you are traveling through rural or wooded areas. If you see a deer in the road, wait before proceeding—they often travel in groups.
10. Curvy Roads. Some drivers have trouble with navigating curvy roads, and that trouble is increased when the weather is poor or when it is dark. Some curves are surrounded by drop-offs, so running off the road in those situations can have serious consequences. Be extra cautious maneuvering around curves, and slow down if necessary.
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