Technology has afforded our vehicles a number of safety upgrades in the last few decades. From the addition of seat belts to the proliferation of lane departure technology, the evolution of vehicle safety has indeed been impressive. Unfortunately, though, our roads are plagued by distracted drivers now more than ever. Along with drunk and drowsy drivers, these distracted motorists account for a large number of traffic accidents each year.
Tragically, the World Health Organization lists these accidents as the number one cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 29. It is only through education that we can work to prevent such incidents from occurring. The most common causes of traffic accidents include:
Traffic accidents are scary at any speed, but high speeds can turn fender benders into deadly collisions. It’s not just reckless speeding that is dangerous, either. Traveling even five miles over the speed limit can seriously up the odds of causing a wreck. Why? The faster you travel, the longer it takes to slow down. Hit the brakes at 25 miles per hour and you’ll find yourself stopping fairly quickly. Hit them at 30 miles per hour, though, and you’ll waste precious seconds trying to slow down.
Weather can exacerbate this effect. It is recommended that drivers slow down when the roads are wet or icy, not because the rain or ice is in the way necessarily, but because of the impact such conditions have on your vehicle. Fail to slow down in bad weather frequently results in traffic accidents.
Distracted driving has plagued motorists for as long as we’ve been driving, but it’s never been worse than in the age of the smartphone. Even if you’re good about not texting and driving, chances are good you’ve still indulged in eating or drinking while behind the wheel. Even chatting with backseat passengers or fiddling with the radio can result in just enough distraction to lose focus on the road.
Just as dangerous as drinking and driving, distracted driving is underestimated in how risky it actually is. There’s not a lot of shame associated with distracted driving. Even without peer pressure, drivers should make it their mission to avoid distractions while behind the wheel. Keep your cell phone out of sight and out of mind and half the battle will be won.
We all know how dangerous drunk driving can be, but it is still one of the most common causes of traffic accidents the world over. Even with the ubiquity of ride-sharing services, drunk drivers still cause thousands of deadly crashes every year in the United States. Drinking impacts one’s reaction time, which is crucial for driving safely. Vision, judgments and reflexes are also impacted by booze.
We’ve all been on a long road trip and stopped for caffeine to refuel and push through to our final destination. It’s a widely accepted but incredibly dangerous choice for drivers. The ante is upped at night, when limited visibility and light traffic can lull even the most experienced motorists into a false sense of security. When you’re sleepy, your reaction times slow, which is why drunk and drowsy driving is often compared.
Professional truck drivers are frequently to blame for drowsy driving collisions. In addition to driving while sleepy, they’re also at the helm of huge big rigs that cause serious destruction in wrecks. While federal regulations for the length of shifts allowed for tractor trailers have been implemented, corporations are still pressuring drivers to work long hours and risk their own health and safety to meet deadlines.
Young drivers are frequently the cause of traffic accidents. Not only do they lack the experience that other older motorists have, they also tend to drive more aggressively. With a devil-may-care attitude towards safety, teens and young adults are more likely to speed and make reckless choices behind the wheel. By driving slower and exercising more caution, inexperienced drivers can reduce the odds of being involved in a crash. Unsurprisingly, drivers between the ages of 17 and 24 have the highest rates of accidents across all age groups.
We share our roads with other motorists, but we sometimes forget that we also share them with animals. On rural roads especially, deer can be a real force with which to be reckoned. Appearing seemingly out of nowhere, these animals can startle even the most experienced of drivers. The options are often grim and must be made in a split second: should you swerve to avoid hitting the deer, or strike the animal and risk serious damage to your vehicle?
It is human instinct to swerve, which is why so many accidents are caused by animal crossings. When we spin the wheel suddenly to avoid a collision, it can cause a driver to lose control and veer off of the roadway. Swerve the wrong direction and you may find yourself colliding with other vehicles. Prevention is key for avoiding animal crossing collisions, so always drive with your brights on when traversing back roads at night.
While these are some of the most common causes of traffic accidents, they are by no means the only ones. Keep them in mind the next time you get behind the wheel, but also stay alert to other causes of wrecks, like following too closely, driving blind behind an oversized truck or construction site confusion.