For most people living in Florida, driving is a daily task. It’s easy to forget the risks involved in operating any type of motor vehicle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 32,000 people die from motor vehicle crashes each year in the United States. Additionally, over 2 million people in the United States are injured each year as a result of car accidents.
Unfortunately, there are many factors on any given road that could cause a car accident. Responsible drivers should be aware of these risk factors, in order to take cautionary measures to minimize the chances of a crash.
Here are the 10 most common causes of car accidents:
1) Using a Cell Phone While Driving
Cell phone use can dramatically effect someone’s driving. Looking at your phone takes your eyes and focus off of the road. It’s easy to be distracted by our smartphones to do things such as:
- Making phone calls
Using social media
- Checking emails
- Changing music
- Changing or routing navigation
If doing any of these things requires you to take your eyes off the road, or your hands off the wheel, then it is certainly dangerous to do while driving. Safe and responsible drivers consider how to minimize their distractions with cell phone use. Before you get on the road make your phone calls, send your texts, set your navigation and start your favorite music playlist so you’re not tempted to do so while driving. Then put your phone away so you don’t find yourself reaching for it while at the wheel.
2) Distracted Driving
There are many other distractions, other than smartphones, that can result in accidents. Distracted driving is the most common reason for accidents. Driving distracted can include a number of things that impair your ability to give your full attention and focus to driving safely. Some common driving distractions may be:
- Eating or drinking
- Putting on makeup
- Driving while emotional
These are just a few of the common contributors to distracted driving, however there are many more distractions that can impact someone’s ability to drive safely. Things such as eating/drinking or putting on makeup require you to take your eyes off the road and hands off the wheel at times. This of course, increases your chances of an accident. Other factors such as arguing or driving while emotional can decrease your attention and focus on the road. Another source of distracted driving can be driving with friends in the car, especially for new drivers. Driving with a car full of friends can be loud and make it harder to focus on the rules of the road.
3) Reckless Driving
Reckless driving is another common reason for motor vehicle accidents. Driving recklessly is a complete disregard for the safety of yourself and others on the road, as well as the rules of the road. The results of this can be deadly for anyone on the road. Mistakes such as attempting to beat the red light, failing to yield properly, or running a stop sign can result in serious accidents. Road rage is another form of reckless driving that can be fatal. This can include aggressive and threatening driving, speeding, rapid lane changes and more. There are many ways someone can display reckless driving, all of which can be incredibly dangerous to those on the road.
Some of the most common examples of reckless driving include:
- Running red lights
- Running stop signs
- Ignoring road signs
- Failing to yield
- Changing lanes without looking or signaling
- Rapid lane changing
- Road rage
Speeding is one of the leading causes for traffic accidents. Speeding can be tempting when running late or when there is less traffic. However, speeding increases your chance of an accident, and does not really save that much time getting to your destination. Additionally, speeding makes it more difficult to control your vehicle. In cases in which a driver may need to come to a sudden stop, avoid something in the road or while driving on a curved road, speeding can make it much more challenging and can result in an auto accident.
5) Driving Under the Influence
Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is another leading cause for auto accidents. Driving while intoxicated is not only risky for the driver but for all those on the road at that time. According to the CDC, teens from 16-19 years of age are three times more likely to die in a crash due to drunk driving compared to drivers 20 and older. Drugs and alcohol can have a variety of effects on someone, however it is never safe to operate a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Alcohol is known to impair one’s judgement in a number of ways, such as time, reaction time, spatial distance, coordination, decision making, and vision. All of these can make operating a vehicle extremely dangerous. Drugs may have a varied effects on a person, but some common effects may be slowed reaction time, decreased coordination, impaired judgement of time and distance, aggressive driving, daring, uncontrollable sleepiness, and more depending on the type of drug. Either way, operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is incredibly dangerous, harmful and puts all those on the road at risk.
Driving when fatigued can also be dangerous. Many wouldn’t think that sleepiness could be deadly, but when it comes to operating a motor vehicle under these circumstances it certainly can be. Falling asleep at the wheel can cause serious accidents and injuries for the driver and others on the road. Aside from falling asleep while driving, being fatigued can impact other aspects of our driving, such as our reaction time, coordination and more. Fatigue may present challenges that can be very dangerous such as not seeing another driver or a pedestrian, or failing to check your blind spot. It’s much safer to pull over and rest when feeling tired rather than put yourself and others on the road at risk.
Another common reason for traffic accidents is due to the weather conditions. Driving in poor weather conditions can create many challenges for drivers. Some of these challenges may directly impact the driver’s visibility, stopping distance, and the ability to identify hazards.
Some weather conditions that impact driving include:
- Rain and flooding
- Heavy fog
- Ice and snow
- Morning and evening glare
Extra caution is necessary when driving in any undesirable weather conditions. Instances in which there has been rain or flooding can reduce traction on the road effecting the drivers ability to stop, turn or swerve. Excessive rain can cause vehicles to hydroplane, losing contact with the road and greatly impairing the drivers ability to control the vehicle. Additionally, driving in rain or heavy fog can impact visibility, making safe driving more difficult. When it comes to driving in ice or snow, the tires can greatly impact the driver’s safety. Drivers should approach these slick roads with caution. Lastly, driving directly into the sun when it is rising or setting may present its own set of visibility challenges as well. The sun can distract or blind drivers, increasing the possibility of an accident.
8) Man-Made Hazards
Some common man-made road hazards consist of:
- Incorrect or inaccurate road signs
- Malfunctioning traffic lights
- Construction zones
- Poor road lighting
- Poor road maintenance
All of these hazards increase the chances of car accidents occurring. Factors like incorrect signage or the lack of signage can make the roads more confusing to drivers, leaving more room for error. Malfunctioning traffic lights can also make roads much more difficult for drivers to navigate. Large intersections without proper traffic lights can be extremely risky and unsafe for drivers. This can be especially difficult during or after a storm. In addition, construction zones can be dangerous for drivers and workers. It’s very important that proper warning and signs are displayed when construction is expected. On the other hand, roads that have not been maintained well, can be dangerous as well. Poor lighting, potholes, or uneven pavement can bring about a number of challenges to drivers, which increases the chances of car accidents.
9) Mechanical Error/Failure
As a safe driver there is a responsibility to be aware of your vehicles current state and if it is safe to operate. It’s very important to do routine maintenance checks on your vehicle and stay up to date on necessary fixes. Some important features to check and maintain when operating a vehicle are:
- Gas and oil levels
- Proper windshield wipers
- Steering and suspension system
- Lighting system
While it is the drivers responsibility to maintain their vehicle to run in a safe manner, there are times when system failures occur that the driver wouldn’t have seen coming. System failures of steering, suspension, tires, brakes and lighting can all cause very dangerous and harmful results such as auto accidents for anyone on the road. Automotive recalls, flaws and defects can account for a number of motor vehicle accidents. It’s critical that drivers conduct routine maintenance on their vehicles and stay alert on any potential flaws or defects that their vehicle may experience.
10) Objects or Animals on the Road
The last most common potential cause of auto accidents is unexpected objects or animals in the road. Some areas may be more prone to wildlife crossing the road than others. However, any time an unexpected animal or object for that matter, is in the road it can be dangerous. Drivers tend to slam on their breaks or swerve to avoid hitting an animal or object and this can certainly result in an accident. It’s always best for drivers to be cautious, alert and aware of their surroundings and what is happening on the road, to allow for the safest and quickest reactions.
Schedule a Consultation with a Car Accident Doctor in Bradenton
If you have been in a car accident, then you should consider speaking with a chiropractor. At Manasota Accident and Injury Center, our licensed chiropractors specialize in treating people who have sustained injuries due to car accidents or other traumas through chiropractic care. Contact us today at (941) 751-0223 or fill out the form on this page to schedule a consultation with a chiropractor and get back to living a pain free life.