The National Safety Council estimated that 40,100 people were killed in car accidents in 2017. This statistic illustrates that car accidents are very common. A majority of car accidents are the product of human error. Below are four common causes of car accidents, and tips for how to avoid becoming the next crash statistic.
- Distracted Driving
We mention this often in our articles, but this topic has to be routinely addressed. Distracted driving is the leading cause of car accidents and crash fatalities in the United States. In fact, eight people are killed every day due to accidents caused by distracted driving.
Humans are not good at multi-tasking. In other words, science shows that humans can’t both text and focus on the road at the same time. Studies show that texting while driving is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blind.
The best solution? Driving needs to be distraction free. The car is a place where you drive. It is not a mobile bathroom, library, kitchen, or garage. If you know that it takes a long time to prepare in the morning (or at any other time of day), build extra time into your schedule to get ready. Before you leave the driveway, hook up your electronics, program your GPS, and set the radio to the preferred channel. Avoid answering texts or phone calls on the road. If the text or call is that important, pull over to a rest area, or other safe place, and respond.
Speeding is the second common cause of accidents. Speed limits are posted for a reason, and that is to protect you and other drivers from the road topography, crashes, or running off the road. Speeding is also not worth the traffic ticket. Depending on the zone in which you are driving, you can accumulate significant fines and points on your driver’s license for failing to obey the posted speed.
Follow the rules. If you know the route you plan to travel is busy, build extra time into your schedule, so that you aren’t late.
- Rear Enders
The basic goal of driving is to get from one place to another without hitting the people in front of you. While this is basic knowledge, statistics suggest otherwise. Rear enders account for 23-30% of crashes each year. Distracted driving and tailgating are leading causes of rear enders, especially at stop lights.
While you may think tailgating will force the driver in front of you to move faster, this idea is erroneous. Tailgating is unsafe for you and the driver in front of you. In Pennsylvania, the driver is supposed to stay one car length behind the car in front of them. This will allow for you to safely navigate hazards in the roadway, and to compensate for cars stopping short.
Further, by attempting to speed along, scientists suggest that tailgating won’t get you to your destination any faster. On average, motorists who speed and tailgate save an average of 26 seconds in drive time. Such a minimum amount of time saved isn’t worth the price of an accident.
- Sleep Deprivation
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, 21% of all fatal crashes happen to drowsy drivers. How can drowsy drivers avoid accidents? The first way is to get the sleep you need. On average, adults need to sleep for at least seven to eight hours a night, in order to be truly awake and alert. Teenagers require a minimum of eight or nine hours. The second way is to avoid driving when tired. If you have to drive, be sure that you have a friend with you, so that you can switch off if you get tired. If you have to be by yourself, and feel sleepiness setting in, pull off the road.
Sleep isn’t just an issue for car drivers. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s 1997 study, roughly half of the crashes involving truck drivers stemmed from drivers who were drowsy, or who had actually fallen asleep behind the wheel. On average, most truck drivers only received 4 to 5 hours of sleep each night.
Driver fatigue is considered to be the number one problem in commercial transportation. As of 2016, to address this problem, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has started to revise the regulations for truck drivers to extend break times on the road, and reduce the maximum number of hours drivers could be on the road.
Following these tips will maximize your safety on the road and create a pleasurable driving experience. Be safe!