10 Leading Causes of Car Accidents, and Tips to Avoid Them
Thousands of car accidents occur annually in Canada. In fact, someone is killed in a car accident every ten seconds in the United States. Most of these accidents could be easily avoided however, which greatly underlines the tragedy of these collisions.
Below is a top ten list of the common causes of automobile accidents and what we can potentially learn from them.
1. Cell phone use – even a hands free cell phone or the use of blue tooth technology does not guarantee that an accident won’t occur when chatting on a cell phone and driving. Harvard University conducted a study that indicated that individuals using cell phones caused 200 deaths and millions of accident related injures. These drivers are four times more likely to cause an accident. The solution of course is to not use cell phones while driving. Easier said than done, but if you must have a phone in your car, pull into a parking lot to answer any important calls if necessary. The truth is in the math!
2. Changing CD/Radio – we may take changing the radio or inserting a CD for granted, but these activities have shown to contribute to higher incidences of car accidents. If you have a short distance to travel, it may be a good idea to insert in your favorite CD before beginning the trip. For a longer trip, a mixed CD is a good option. Bringing several of these mixed CDs will provide hours of enjoyment and can be changed during pit stops. Alternatively, passengers could be given responsibility for changing CDs while in route.
3. Eating in the car – applying make-up, reading and eating often lead to disaster when driving. If you must eat, do so while stopped to fill with gas, or for a rest stop break. Far too many accidents have been caused by people trying to avoid getting crumbs or mustard on their pants. Another great piece of advice is to make sure you have adequately sized drink holders, so you won’t have to place your drink between your legs. Many more accidents yet have been caused because a lid popped off or a drink was spilled on a driver’s lap.
4. Rubbernecking – despite what most people might think, rubbernecking is the foremost cause of traffic accidents and related injuries. People who live in urban areas are more prone of course. In fact, many accidents can occur near or around accident scenes. To reduce the risk of such a collision, move with the flow of traffic and do not stop or slow down unless instructed to do so by officers on the scene. Pay attention to the road, and not the accident.
5. Drinking and driving – In 2006, nearly 14,000 alcohol related traffic fatalities marred the landscape in the United States. In fact, traffic accidents involving inebriated drivers had a higher risk of death or debilitating injury. While education is key, it is not enough to tell people not to drink and drive. There will always be those who ignore conventional wisdom and get behind the wheel drunk. Perhaps the best technique to aid with preventing drunk driving is to make it a policy to take keys from friends, when you know they’ve been drinking. You may also wish to drive them home, or hire any one of a number of services designed to get the driver and his car home safely.
6. Drug use – driving under the influence also includes the influence of drugs. Perception influencers are obviously bad, but so too are supposed soft core drugs like marijuana, which can greatly reduce a person’s ability to drive. Illegal drugs are not the only kinds of drugs that create problems; cold medications and those used to alleviate headache pain can also impair driving ability. No matter what the reason for the impairment, you have enough information at your disposal to make such decisions, so when in doubt—stay home!
7. Driver Distraction – kids, animals and construction sites often distract individuals as much as any cell phone or car accidents we see. We are all human and know that it can be near impossible to keep our attention on the road when little Timmy is pulling on his sister’s hair. However, it is best if you resist the urge to look away, even momentarily. If it appears to be an issue requiring discipline, pull onto the road’s shoulder or into the nearest rest stop first.
8. Speeding – The faster a car speeds along a highway, the higher the probability of a fatal accident. Even so, people tend to speed with alarming frequency. More concerning is the increasing tendency of drivers to speed through residential areas. What many people fail to consider is that the faster you travel, the harder it becomes to stop. This makes the potential for disaster immense when speeding in residential neighbourhoods. The remedy of course is to drive the posted speed limit, especially in suburban areas, school zones and urban side streets.
9. Recklessness – some people adopt a willful disregard for the traffic regulations that make our roads safer. Feeling above the law, they sneer at the rules of the road and exhibit a sense of entitlement when driving. Many of these individuals also exhibit aggressive driving tactics such as changing lanes without signaling. Aside from advising you not to exhibit these driving behaviors yourself, you should be on the look out for these dangerous motorists, and report them to authorities as you see them (pulling over first to make the call of course).
10. Shoddy road maintenance — Highway maintenance is very important. However, many roads exhibit unsafe conditions like pot holes, uneven pavement and various other types of defects. These conditions can and do lead to serious car accidents. The best defense against accidents caused by such road defects, is to keep your eyes open and never take it for granted that every roadway is well kept. When you find a highway too rough, try to avoid it altogether if possible.
In the end, knowledge is power, so if you wish to stay safe and maintain the safety of those you love, keep the above information in mind and don’t become one of these unfortunate statistics. Safe driving!