Each year, millions of people are hurt in vehicle collisions. The frustrating fact is that many of these injuries could be avoided if the drivers simply followed a few basic rules.
By familiarizing yourself with the most common causes of car crashes in the United States, you’ll become a much safer driver.
How to Avoid These Five Common Causes of Car Wrecks
Collisions are an alarmingly common occurrence. But don’t confuse common with casual. A crash can be a life-altering event that results in serious injuries, long-term debilitation, and all too often, death.
According to Bankrate, 3 million people are injured in car crashes in the U.S. each year. In 2019, 36,096 motor vehicle incidents resulted in at least one fatality.
In total, somewhere between 5 million and 6 million wrecks and ugly impacts occur every year. Though many involve unique circumstances, one may typically trace nearly every crash back to one or more of the following:
- Excessive Speed
Speeding is inarguably one of the most common causes of car collisions. As an old slogan puts it, “Speed kills.”
“For every 10 mph of increased speed, the risk of dying in a crash doubles,” EMC Insurance explains. “In addition, speed increases the risk of serious injuries and damage to vehicles and property. In fact, speed accounted for approximately one-third of all traffic deaths in 2018, totaling 9,378 deaths.”
One of the problems with speeding is that it reduces your reaction time. If you see brake lights 100 feet in front of you but you’re only traveling 25 miles per hour, it’s pretty easy to slow down and stop.
If you’re traveling at 45 miles per hour, though, you must react much faster to avoid a wreck. If you combine increased speed with the next factor on the list (distracted driving), then your injury risk level jumps much higher.
- Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is a massive problem on our streets and highways. Some even say it’s now the leading cause of car accidents (though this is difficult to establish statistically).
But as technology becomes ever more ubiquitous, the threat of distracted vehicle operators will also grow more serious over time.
Although technology such as smartphones and in-vehicle entertainment are major sources of distraction, this is not only a problem with tech and gadgets. Other behaviors like eating, reading, grooming, applying makeup, reaching in the back seat, and staring at distractions out the window can mean the driver is distracted.
- Drunk Driving
Unfortunately, driving under the influence of some sort of intoxicant continues to be a serious issue on American roads. Despite the weighty consequences of driving while intoxicated, more than 1 million people get arrested each year for alcohol or drugs.
The answer is simple: The best way to avoid drunk driving is always to make use of a designated driver or car-sharing transport such as Uber to get you where you need to go if you’ve had any drinks.
But you should also be mindful of other drivers who could potentially be operating under the influence. You can reduce your risk of getting in harm’s way by staying off the pavement between the hours of 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. (especially on weekends).
- Poorly Maintained Vehicle
Your vehicle is a complicated machine that must be well maintained in order to operate safely. If you don’t take care of your car or truck, it could expose you to much higher risk of a dangerous mishap.
To maximize vehicle safety, you should especially monitor the condition of your tires, brakes and rotors, and various belts and hoses. You should also make sure all the safety features are functional.
- Poor Road Conditions
Fifth and last, road conditions often play a major role in car wrecks. Roads instantly become less reliable when there’s rain, ice, sleet, snow, and/or heavy wind. The night time is also more dangerous than the middle of the day (as, to a lesser extent, are dawn and sunset) because of lower driver visibility.
Stay Safe on the Road
You can be a great driver in every way, but plenty of other inexperienced or irresponsible drivers may pose serious safety challenges and hazards for you on the road. One of the best ways to respond to this unpleasant reality is to take a defensive driving course.
Such courses teach you how to be more aware of your surroundings and how to avoid the high-risk scenarios that could threaten your safety. Plus, there’s a wonderful bonus: You may usually get some kind of discount on your auto insurance policy when you take one of these classes.
So definitely consider doing it, if you would like to reduce your risk of an accident even further.