Even though big car companies have made significant advances in automotive safety and design in the last decade. U.S. vehicle fatalities hardly declined in 2017. 40,000 for the second year in a row, up 5.6% from 2015 as reported by The National Safety Council. Driver error accounts for over 25% of all traffic accidents. Nobody plans on getting into an auto accident, that’s why it’s called an “accident.” It’s unfortunate that so many end with life changing results. Traffic seems to grow denser every year and the number of accidents is on the rise. Here are some familiar reasons for car accidents, most of which can be avoided with a bit of common sense.
1) Not Knowing Your Vehicle
No matter what you are driving, you need to have total control. Most people purchase a vehicle based on what they like about it. Whether it’s the look, the functionality or the extra features. You base your decision to buy it, on a 2 or 3-mile test drive and you take it home. Being unfamiliar with the dimensions of the vehicle, how fast it accelerates, or how quick it can stop, can all lead to an out of control accident. This is especially true for new or young drivers. Driver’s Ed does not teach real world situations, they teach enough to get you to pass a simple road test.
2) Distracted Driving
When you are driving, whatever you’re driving, your only job is to safely operate your vehicle. It’s ironic that while texting and driving (loosely enforced) is against the law, the nine-inch touch screen on your dashboard isn’t considered distracting, or illegal. The average text can take your eyes off the road for an average of five seconds. Finding a station on satellite radio can take even longer. Even with controls built in to the steering wheel of newer model cars to handle your calls, texts and music choices are still taking your focus away from where it should be, ON THE ROAD! Distracted driving continues to be the number one leading cause of car accidents in America.
Young drivers develop the “Need for Speed” at an earlier age than previous generations did. With the success of high speed action movies and video games, first time drivers think standing on the gas pedal is how your supposed to really drive. We’ve all seen the results on the news. More times than not an innocent motorist gets the worst of it. Some of the cars built now aren’t helping to promote safe driving, not really. Sure, it’s great to have a set of wheels that is as fast as it looks, but do you need a car that does 160 mph from the factory? Unless you have access to a race track, see where we’re going with this?
4) Aggressive Driving
Everybody on the road is trying to get somewhere. Some feel the need to get there really fast. You’ve all seen “that car” speeding, weaving in and out of cars, not signaling, tailgating and braking way too hard at the last second. And you’re thinking about the time you rolled through a stop sign and the police pulled you over like they were in the trunk, so where are they now? Whether its an angry driver or just a lead foot, aggressive driving has a high potential for collateral damage. Reflex reactions from the drivers who are trying to avoid an aggressive driver can veer off into another vehicle because their attention is on the car that almost hit them or cut them off.
5) Left Turns or Trying to Beat a Yellow Light
Every driver at some point has done it, hit the gas on a yellow light to beat the red one. Sometimes however, you’re left with little choice. You’re approaching a light that’s been green awhile, as you get closer it turns yellow. You have plenty of room to stop but in your rear-view mirror the driver of the car behind you is focusing more on his smart phone than the road. So rather than risk an almost certain rear-end accident, you nail it to make through. Many serious head on and T-bone collisions happen because someone tried to make the green light, or arrow and could not properly judge the distance of the intersection versus oncoming traffic. Most left turn arrows average 5-15 seconds, from yellow to red is 2-3 seconds.
6) Poor Vehicle Maintenance
Not properly maintaining your vehicle can cause a wide range of problems. Even something as simple as not topping off the windshield washer fluid can leave you all but blind in harsh weather. You should keep a maintenance schedule for your car and check fluids regularly. Anything that forces you to pull over on a busy road or highway can put you and anyone stopping to help you at risk, especially during high volume traffic periods. Checking your tires is crucial to road safety. It doesn’t matter how expensive your car is, where the rubber meets the road is where it counts. Take a penny and place it in your tire tread. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, you need new tires. You should also have your brakes checked and maintained regularly.
7) Confusing Road Construction
Misleading road signs, cones shutting down lanes with no one working, or road crews working with no flagman to direct traffic. We’ve all been there. It’s confusing, it’s aggravating and it’s adding to the mounting frustration that no matter how hard you pound on the steering wheel, you’re not getting to work on time. The risk for accidents rises greatly in these work zones. Even if they are clearly marked with signs and cones, some people just refuse to learn how to merge. Whether or not you are “that driver” refusing to merge properly can result in serious vehicle damage. Traffic accidents are caused by those who are afraid to merge and just stop waiting to be let in, and those who refuse to let anyone in. Which leads into the next reason for accidents.