A report put out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), well over 36,000 Americans (and counting!) since 2018 have died due to being involved in serious car accidents – an alarming and every increasing number! Car crashes, fatal or non-fatal, are a common occurrence in this country – about every 16 minutes, a life is lost due to a collision. You must exercise vigilance when out on the road, no matter what. To protect yourself and your loved ones from such a fate, it is very important to be very aware of the events and disturbing behaviors that lead to auto accidents and how to avoid them.
Driving Under the Influence
The most prominent example of driving under the influence is drunk driving, of course. Across all states, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more. Even when complying with these limitations, many people experience an impaired ability to safely operate a vehicle once having ingested as few as two beers (or the equivalent). Driving while under the influence of prescription drugs and other substances such as marijuana can increase the risk of collision, impairing the driver’s awareness and control even further. Nearly 30 people are killed each day in a drunk driving accident, amounting to one life lost every 50 minutes.
This can take many forms, the most commonly known of which is texting and driving. Any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the road – whether it be visually, mentally, physically (removing hands from the steering wheel) – is regarded as a distraction. In the few seconds it takes an individual to glance back and forth between their phone, makeup, or other objects in their hands or lap, a fatal crash can occur before they’re able to react. In 2018, 2,841 people were killed by distracted drivers – those killed were other drivers, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Exceeding the Speed Limit
Most drivers think nothing of it – edging further and further past the speed limit until they’ve reached 10, even 20 miles above the legal restriction. This is especially dangerous during adverse weather conditions. Speeding is particularly dangerous in the way it affects the driver, their vehicle, and the road. The driver is significantly reducing the reaction time they have available to avoid a collision while also increasing the necessary stopping distance for the vehicle.
The excessive speed also makes any safety structures on the road much less effective in preventing injury and further damage. (For example, a car traveling at 45 mph is more likely to be safely stopped by a median divider than one traveling 60 mph). In 2018, approximately 26% of all traffic fatalities were attributed to speeding.
Other Common Causes of Car Accidents
Among the long list of leading causes for car accidents are:
- Inclement weather
- Reckless driving
- Running stop signs and red lights
To protect yourself from being injured or killed in a collision, practice defensive driving at all times, especially during inclement weather. If you notice other drivers engaging in any of the behaviors listed above, distance yourself from that vehicle as safely as possible. At all times, keep your eyes on the road, and you will be able to spot danger from a mile away.