What Causes Car Accidents?
There are approximately 6.5 million car accidents each year in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) stated that there were 125,267 reportable car accidents in 2019, and the Philadelphia area had the highest rate of traffic fatalities, which was 8.6 percent. Since these numbers are outstanding, many motorists may wonder what causes car accidents. All drivers should understand the common causes of car accidents and how to prevent them.
Many drivers may believe that fatal car accidents decreased during the start of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but the data suggests otherwise. Between January and the end of October 2020, the Philadelphia Police Department confirmed that there were over 111 fatalities that resulted from vehicle crashes, marking a 54 percent increase from the year before. Preliminary data from the NHTSA showed that the number of drivers on the road did go down, and there were less fatalities during the second quarter of 2020. The report indicates that while traffic volumes decreased significantly more than the number of fatal crashes, the percentage of fatal crashes actually increased.
Injured car accident victims deserve justice. After a collision, a victim should consult the experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Nerenberg Law Associates, P.C. for help with their case. A lawyer will evaluate the situation and determine the best course of action.
Driving is a huge responsibility, and most of the collision-causing behaviors listed below are common mistakes. Reviewing the typical causes of collisions can help reinforce better decision making behind the wheel.
Drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving, according to the National Law Review (NLR). The effects of fatigue are similar to the effects of alcohol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that a driver who has been awake for 18 hours straight suffers from the same impairments as a driver with a 0.05 blood alcohol content level. This figure is a little under the 0.08 blood alcohol content level that is considered legally intoxicated.
Drowsy drivers often nod off for a few sounds and suffer from delayed reaction times. The NLR lists drowsy driving as an underreported factor in car crashes. Driver inattention is a clear symptom of drowsiness, but it could be classified as something else in a police report. A main cause of driving drowsy is that Americans do not get enough sleep. Adults routinely get fewer than seven to eight hours of rest per night.
Distracted driving is one of the top causes of car accidents. Often, many people relate distracted driving to cellphone use, but this category actually encompasses many more common driver mistakes. Some common distractions include:
- Turning around to check on what passengers are doing.
- Losing focus in a daydream.
- Adjusting the radio.
- Checking the navigation device for directions.
- Focusing on a conversation with a passenger or on the phone.
- Eating, drinking, and spilling foods.
- Personal grooming.
Motorists tend to fill in the time sitting still in a car with activities that take their eyes and mind off the road. Driving is a responsibility, and it requires focus on the road.
Driving Under the Influence
Impaired drivers are responsible for over 16 percent of collisions and 28 percent of traffic-related deaths in the United States, according to the CDC. There have been concerted efforts to decrease drunk driving by the government and by the manufacturers of alcoholic beverages in recent years.
Alcohol is not the only intoxicating substance being consumed by people before they get behind the wheel. As marijuana use is increasing and becoming legalized in many states, the figures for driving under the influence extend beyond alcohol consumption. The CDC estimates that marijuana users are about 25 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers who do not use marijuana. However, other factors, such as age, may account for the increased crash risk among marijuana users, according to the CDC report.
Driving over the speed limit, whether it is to keep up with the flow of traffic or its unintentional, is a top cause of car accidents. It may be chalked up to teenagers who are not paying attention or racing, but a lot of speeding mistakes are made by grown adults who are on their way to work or an event. Drivers have less control as speed increases. When speeding, a motorist cannot properly react to changes in road conditions and the behaviors of other drivers.
Speed is often listed as one of the causes in an accident. Even if it is not the primary cause, it exacerbates the effect of other problematic behaviors on the road. Some of this is a result of social changes. The nation’s workforce has continued to move their households further away from urban centers, and the reliance on automobiles over public transit has become more common, causing commute times to increase.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the average American spends at least 26 minutes in the car when going to and from work. Many drivers spend much more time than 26.6 minutes a day from home to work and back. The stress of making sure one is at work or home or school for pickups on time is a lot different than going to the grocery store quickly. However, the top priority has to be safe driving.
Ignoring Red Lights and Stop Signs
Running a red light and going through a stop sign are top causes of collisions. In both situations, other drivers on the road will be unaware of the behavior of the driver blowing through the stop sign or red light until it is too late to avoid a collision. This is a major cause of car accidents, about two deaths occur each day due to these errors, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA) in a 2019 report. The AAA reported a 28 percent increase in red-light running as a reason for car crashes between 2012 and 2017.
Cutting off other drivers, shifting lanes too quickly or without signaling, or driving right on top of another motorist are all examples of reckless behaviors. However, depending on the situation and the road conditions, many actions that are not typically reckless might be unsafe at that moment. For this reason, drivers should always safely adapt to their surroundings and road conditions.
Hazardous Road Conditions
NHTSA statistics indicate that 94 percent of car accidents are caused by human error. What about the other causes? Weather conditions can create situations where it is not safe to drive, regardless of the driver’s focus and good decision making. Fog can also greatly reduce visibility, puddles can get deep and create hydroplaning, wind speed can make driving difficult, heavy snow or rain can be blinding, and ice can cause tires to lose traction. When a car loses traction and slides down a hill, the car might not be able to stop until it hits an object.
Road conditions can create problems as well. If the driver blew through a stop sign and got into a car accident but no one could see the stop sign due to an overgrown tree, the driver may not be at fault. Other road condition problems could be a faulty traffic signal or potholes that can pop tires and make it difficult to pull over. If an injured car accident victim is unsure about what to do after a collision, they should speak to a lawyer. A car accident lawyer will determine the cause of the collision and if their client is eligible for compensation.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Nerenberg Law Associates, P.C. Help Collision Victims Obtain Compensation and Justice
There are many different causes of car accidents, and it may be difficult to determine liability in a personal injury case. A car accident victim should seek recourse from an experienced lawyer after any type of collision. The Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Nerenberg Law Associates, P.C. have numerous years of experience in handling motor vehicle accident cases. For more information and a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 215-569-9100. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.