The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration predicted that 17,775 people would die in car accidents during the first half of 2016. This means 10.4 percent more crash fatalities were predicted than occurred in the first half of 2015.
The idea that car accidents are increasing is both sobering and scary. What causes car accidents, and how can we prevent them?
- Distracted Driving
In 2014, 3,179 people were killed in accidents involving distracted driving. Distracted driving is particularly prevalent for teenagers—10 percent of 15- to 19-year-old drivers involved in accidents in which someone died were distracted when the crash occurred.
One of the most common causes of distracted driving is—you guessed it—cell phones. Texting while driving is particularly dangerous because it requires you to take your eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel.
Other distractions include talking to passengers, looking at a map or GPS, smoking, eating and drinking, adjusting the radio, and putting on makeup. Avoiding these distractions can greatly increase your safety behind the wheel.
- Impaired Driving
When it comes to car accidents, alcohol continues to be a huge factor. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one person dies in an alcohol-related crash every 53 minutes.
Drugs also play a part in many car accidents. In fact, 16 percent of car crashes were caused by drivers under the influence of drugs other than alcohol.
Plus, the legalization of marijuana in various locations may lead to more accidents. According to the CDC, marijuana users are 25 percent more likely to crash.
There’s a simple solution to avoid these accidents: don’t drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Find a designated driver, hire a taxi, or take public transportation instead.
- Reckless Driving
Not only is it illegal, but reckless driving causes numerous accidents. Reckless driving can include:
- Running red lights
- Failing to follow traffic signs
- Changing lanes too quickly
- Using the wrong lane to turn
- Failing to signal
- Not following right-of-way rules for turns
Much reckless driving is caused by drivers who are in a hurry or see traffic rules as unimportant or not applicable. But inexperience can also lead to reckless driving. Many teenage drivers don’t have years of driving experience behind them and easily make mistakes.
Law-enforcement officers help enforce safe driving. If you notice an unsafe driver on the road, stay out of his or her way and call the police. Teen drivers should take a driving course and get adequate driving practice before getting a driver’s license.
- Mechanical Problems
Unfortunately, sometimes an issue with a vehicle on the road leads to an accident. Common issues include:
- Tire blowouts
- Brake failure
- Dead batteries
You can do your part to avoid mechanical accidents through regular maintenance. Regular car maintenance prevents your parts from wearing down or breaking on the road.
You should check and adjust your tire pressure about once a month. Every 3000 miles, get your oil changed, your tires rotated, and your brakes checked.
About once a year, you should have a mechanic check the overall state of your vehicle and point out any problems that require repair.
If your car does experience an issue on the road, pull off the road and turn on your emergency lights.
- Weather Conditions
Snow, rain, hail, and other weather conditions decrease visibility and create slick road conditions. Ideally, people should avoid driving during times of poor weather, but this isn’t always possible.
If you need to drive in poor weather, leave 100 yards between you and the car in front of you. Drive at least ten miles below the speed limit, and brake slowly and carefully. Avoid driving in icy or flooded areas.
- Limited Visibility
When they can’t see as well, drivers may be more likely to crash. This happens in foggy conditions and at night when there is limited light.
Drivers can increase their visibility by turning on their headlights. Avoid using high beams if there are other drivers on the road, since high beams can decrease other drivers’ visibility. Also, don’t look directly at oncoming headlights.
You should also slow down when driving up a hill, since you might not be able to see another car over the hill.
- Road Conditions
Unexpected road conditions such as construction zones or potholes can also lead to accidents.
If you see a construction zone, slow down and look carefully at your surroundings. If you see a pothole, drive around it if possible. If you can’t do that safely, drive slowly over the pothole.
It’s impossible to prevent all car accidents. However, each driver can do his or her part to decrease his or her car-accident risk.
Follow these tips to decrease your risk for these common causes of car accidents. Make sure to keep your car in top condition by taking it to Central Body Company, Inc.