The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that roughly 90 percent of all accidents involve some element of human error. To avoid becoming a statistic, you should know the leading causes of automobile accidents. Understanding these risks can help you reduce your chances of being involved in an accident.
9 Frequent Causes of Traffic Accidents
1. Distracted Driving
According to the NHTSA, texting is the most alarming distraction for drivers. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. The task of driving safely requires your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of a crash. The NHTSA reports that in 2020, 3,142 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Distracted driving includes any activity that pulls a driver’s attention away from the road. Making or answering phone calls, eating, grooming, and other non-driving activities should be avoided while driving.
2. Excessive Speed
Driving at excessive speeds can lead to deadly outcomes. An accident with another vehicle, an animal, or a pedestrian can be devastating. While you might think that exceeding the speed limit is a harmless transgression, it can lead to severe consequences. When driving, you should always be aware of your speed, traffic patterns, and road conditions. The best way to avoid a potential accident is to drive at the posted speed limit and lower your speed based on road and weather conditions.
3. Driving Under the Influence
Statistics show that drunk driving accounts for roughly one-third of all automobile accidents. Law enforcement, highway patrol, and civic organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) work hard to reduce the number of drunk driving accidents. Still, the statistics show that more than 100,000 accidents are caused by drunk driving each year. As a driver, you can help reduce the number of drunk driving accidents. Under Missouri law, you generally can be charged with a DWI if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or greater. This standard is lower for minors and operators of commercial motor vehicles. The best policy is to never get behind the wheel if you’ve consumed any amount of alcohol.
4. Drowsy Driving
NHTSA estimates that in 2017, 91,000 police-reported crashes involved drowsy drivers. These crashes led to an estimated 50,000 injuries and nearly 800 deaths. In a recent survey, an estimated 1 in 25 adult drivers reported falling asleep while driving in the previous 30 days! Avoid driving if you take prescribed or over-the-counter medications that can cause drowsiness. When you feel yourself becoming drowsy while driving, it is best to pull over in a safe area and take a break. When driving, be aware of signs that may indicate drowsiness, including a vehicle crossing the centerline, hitting a rumble strip, and not maintaining a consistent speed. Reporting your concerns to local law enforcement can prevent a serious accident.
5. Defective Products
Faulty products cause some automobile accidents. The most common are those caused by faulty brakes, gas pedals, steering wheels, tires, and seat belts. Pay attention to vehicle recall notices and have your vehicle inspected and repaired if necessary. Regular vehicle maintenance is essential for safe driving.
While most manufacturers are diligent about product safety, some may be negligent in their designs, lab testing, or quality assurance. Tires are a prime example. The NHTSA reports 664 motor vehicle traffic fatalities in 2020 alone related to faulty tires. As tires age and wear, they become more susceptible to damage from road hazards such as potholes, nails, and other objects. Regularly inspect your tires for excessive wear and ensure they are properly inflated. If you have concerns about the safety of your tires, the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) has a tire recall research tool that is easy to use.
6. Overloaded Vehicles
The laws concerning vehicle weight and height vary from state to state. Many times, improperly loaded or overloaded vehicles cause vehicular accidents. If you see an overloaded vehicle, you should report it so action can be taken against the vehicle’s operator before an accident occurs. Never follow a vehicle too closely with a load that appears to be overloaded or with an improperly secured load. It is also best not to drive along the side of a tall or overloaded vehicle as it may tip over, causing severe injuries or even death.
7. Poor Road Conditions
Large potholes, ice, or water on roadways are leading causes of traffic accidents. If you’re driving, poor road conditions can cause you to lose control and hit another vehicle, person, or object. Remember to stay alert and be prepared to lower your speed when road conditions deteriorate due to weather or poorly maintained road surfaces. You should report poor road conditions to your state’s transportation department, so they alert other drivers or make repairs if necessary.
8. Aggressive Driving
Generally, aggressive driving is any intentionally unsafe driving behavior. Tailgating, speeding, running red lights, weaving through traffic, and blocking vehicles trying to pass or change lanes are examples of aggressive driving. When aggressive driving escalates, it can result in what is referred to as road rage, which includes rude or obscene gestures, sideswiping, throwing objects at other motorists, and forcing drivers off the road. Report it to local law enforcement when you experience or witness aggressive driving.
9. Bad Weather Conditions
Poor weather conditions cause numerous problems for drivers. Inclement weather affects your ability to see and can also impact how you respond to situations on the road. Adverse weather, including rain, fog, wind, dust, sleet, and snow, can create deadly driving conditions. Lowering your speed and allowing plenty of room between you and other vehicles is the best way to prevent an accident. If weather conditions are hazardous, it’s always best to pull off the road and wait until the situation improves.
What Should I Do If I Am Involved in a Traffic Accident?
If you are involved in any type of automobile accident, you should:
- Pull over immediately, being careful to avoid blocking traffic
- Notify local law enforcement or the Missouri Highway Patrol
- Report the accident to your insurance company
- Exchange information with other drivers, including your contact information, insurance company names, and policy numbers
Allstate has a step-by-step guide that provides detailed information on essential steps to take if you’ve been involved in an automobile accident. It’s also a good idea to ask your insurance agent what steps you should follow in the event of an accident. Each insurer may have slightly different requirements for their policyholders.
Should You Call An Attorney?
These are just a few of the most common causes of automobile accidents. An accident can happen to even the safest driver. One minute, you can be driving home, and the next, you are involved in a serious accident resulting in injuries that can be severe and life-threatening. There are countless causes of automobile accidents. Regardless of the cause, you should not hesitate to seek legal representation if you have been involved in a car accident. At St. Louis Traffic Fix, we understand an automobile accident can seriously impact your life and are here to help.
Contact St. Louis Traffic Fix
When you need help with a speeding ticket, DWI, traffic accident, or another issue, call the experts at St. Louis Traffic Fix. We proudly represent clients in St. Charles, Lincoln, Warren, and St. Louis Counties. We help clients resolve traffic issues in a timely and beneficial manner. Call us at 636-685-0440 to schedule a consultation.