No one wants to be in an auto accident, but despite continuous improvements in vehicle safety, auto accidents still account for a large portion of accidental injuries and death in the United States each year.
Even if an accident is relatively minor from an injury perspective, the cost of repairing a damaged car can be significant. Your auto insurance will (hopefully) cover all or some of the cost, but your rate may go up as a result.
What are the causes of car accidents? Most often, accidents are caused by human error and/or negligence. Below we’ve described some of the most common causes of car accidents, how they occur, and what you can do to avoid them.
1. Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is rapidly becoming one of the most common causes of car accidents, especially for younger and inexperienced drivers.
Make up, cell phones, food, and the morning newspaper are all common ways that drivers get distracted. Distracted drivers are dangerous drivers since their focus is on whatever else they’re doing instead of the road and other drivers.
How to avoid it: Put on makeup, eat, and read the paper before you leave in the morning instead of trying to multitask. If you must use a cell phone while driving, use a wireless Bluetooth device. That will make sure that both of your hands will be on the wheel instead of on the phone. Eating while driving is also dangerous and can limit your ability to react to potential hazards if one or both hands are holding food.
2. Drunk Driving
Unfortunately, alcohol is still one of the leading causes of car accidents. It’s no secret that alcohol impairs judgement and reaction times, which makes accidents much more likely for someone intoxicated rather than sober.
How to avoid it: We all know that drunk driving is bad, so why do people still do it? Drinking and driving not only puts you at risk, but also puts other innocent drivers at risk as well. A lot of times people think that they can still drive fine because they only had a couple drinks, but having a couple drinks can still put you over the limit. When going out drinking be sure to have a designated driver or take a cab to avoid getting behind the wheel.
3. Aggressive Driving
Speeding, tailgating, changing lanes without signaling, and similar behavior behind the wheel is unsafe for both the person doing it and the people around that person. Being an aggressive driver instead of being a defensive driver puts you at greater risk for getting in or causing an accident.
How to avoid it: Take a defensive driving course and use common sense to keep speed down and to keep a safe distance between vehicles. Always signal before making a turn or changing lanes, and always be aware of other vehicles around you.
4. Road Rage
Road rage and aggressive driving are closely related causes of car accidents. Drivers who get angry easily and then take it out on other drivers are one of the leading causes of accidents.
It’s usually caused by someone cutting you off or pulling out in front of you, and many times it’s likely unintentional. Speeding and tailgating is usually involved.
How to avoid it: A defensive driving course and a general change of attitude will help any driver that is guilty of road rage. I admit I have had road rage at one point or another, but having road rage is dangerous and takes your focus off the road and onto aggressive driving.
5. Poor Maintenance
While not near as frequent as the other causes of car accidents mentioned above, not properly maintaining your car can make it unsafe to drive and susceptible to mechanical failure. Car parts, such as brake lines, tires, and engines can fail at inopportune times while driving, which can cause accidents.
How to avoid it: Keeping up with routine maintenance, checking the oil levels regularly, and testing out your brakes is a great way to avoid car accidents caused by maintenance neglect. Check for rust on the brake lines, because brake lines snapping is a common occurrence. Make sure your tires are not old and worn down because bad tires can lead to blow outs which lead to accidents.