Driving is a daily necessity for people across the United States. From going on a quick trip to the grocery store to making the long trek to work, people rely heavily on cars, motorcycles, and even public transportation to get where they need to be. With so many people on the roads at any given time, there is an inevitable risk of car accidents. While many collisions result in nothing more than a minor fender-bender, others can cause serious or even fatal injuries.
In this article, we discuss some of the leading causes of fatal car accidents in the United States. By providing information on why deadly car accidents occur in the first place, we hope to decrease the frequency of such tragic incidents. Read on to learn more about how and why lethal collisions occur. If your family has been impacted by a deadly wreck, a wrongful death attorney in Charleston, WV may be able to help you secure justice for your loss.
Driving While Impaired
It is illegal in every U.S. state to drive while impaired by drug use or alcohol. Even so, drivers regularly hit the road while impaired, which can substantially increase the chances of a deadly collision. Alcohol and drugs can negatively impact a driver’s decision-making, reaction time, and ability to maintain control of their vehicle. Drivers that are impaired may be more likely to make risky maneuvers, ranging from dangerous speeding to aggressive tailgating.
It is important to note that even prescription medications may make it unsafe for someone to be behind the wheel. Certain prescription medications can cause blurred vision, drowsiness, extreme fatigue, or other conditions that can easily result in a collision. If your doctor prescribes a new medication, ask them what effect it may have on your judgment and ability to operate heavy machinery.
When the phrase “distracted driving” is mentioned, cellphones immediately come to mind for most people. On a near-daily basis, you can expect to share the road with drivers that are as immersed in their iphone as they are on what’s happening around their car. However, distracted driving encompasses many more behaviors than just texting or speaking on the phone while behind the wheel. Some of the most common distractions include:
- Texting or talking on the phone
- Checking a car’s GPS or changing the radio while driving
- Adjusting temperature controls while the vehicle is in motion
- Searching for items on the floor or in the glovebox
- Eating or drinking while driving
- Applying makeup while the car is moving
- Having an animated discussion with passengers
Distracted driving can make it difficult or even impossible for a driver to detect and safely respond to changing road conditions. Traveling at 55 miles per hour, your car goes the distance of a football field in the span of about four seconds. Taking your eyes off the road, whether to check text messages or search for something you dropped on the floor, can have catastrophic consequences for you and the drivers around your vehicle.
Driving Too Fast for Conditions
Speeding is a factor in countless fatal crashes across the country. When a collision occurs at a high rate of speed, the chances of serious injuries and considerable property damage are significantly increased. In some cases, a driver doesn’t even need to be traveling above the speed limit to be moving at an unsafe rate of travel. As some examples, you may need to reduce your speed when driving in heavy rain, fog, or on icy roads. Driving at or above the posted speed limit during such conditions may be unsafe. Always use your best judgment and travel at an appropriate speed for the prevalent weather conditions at all times.
Compared to the well-known risks of drunk driving, drowsy driving may seem relatively benign in comparison. Most drivers can recall a time when they felt a little sleepy during an early morning or late evening drive that nonetheless resulted in them safely reaching their destination. However, drowsy driving actually poses a serious threat to a driver’s wellbeing. Even when a driver doesn’t fall asleep behind the wheel, drowsiness can cause:
- Delayed reaction times if sudden braking or evasive actions are required
- Negatively affected decision making and mental processing speed
- Reduced attentiveness to the road
Anytime you are feeling too exhausted to get behind the wheel, it’s best to get some rest before driving anywhere. Doing so can potentially save your life and protect other road users at the same time. Some people may be more at risk of drowsy driving collisions, including:
- Teenagers and young adults
- Commercial truck drivers
- Drivers with sleep disorders
- Motorists on the road between midnight and 6 a.m.
- People that take medication that causes drowsiness
- Drivers who are sleep-deprived
- Drivers working long shifts
Failure to Obey the Rules of the Road
Traffic laws are meant not only to improve safety on the roads, but also to make the actions of drivers more predictable. Imagine if every four-way stop had no signage or directions and drivers were expected to make split-second decisions on when to proceed. You’d likely experience either complete gridlock or a number of car accidents. Traffic laws and signals help improve the flow of traffic and guide drivers to make the most rational decision given the circumstances at hand.
When drivers fail to obey the rules of the road, whether by running a red light or speeding in a residential zone, they increase the chances of an accident occurring. By striving to comply with the rules of the road, you help other drivers understand what you’re trying to do, which in turn makes everyone safer.
Reckless or Aggressive Driving
Road rage is an entirely preventable factor that is unfortunately present in many deadly collisions. Although other motorists can certainly be frustrating at times, it’s important to keep calm and drive safely under all circumstances. Some forms of aggressive driving include:
- Excessive speed
- Ignoring traffic signals
- Racing other vehicles
- Drifting across lane markers
- Driving on the shoulder of a highway
- Weaving in and out of traffic
Protect Yourself Through Defensive Driving
At the end of the day, the only actions you can control on the road are your own. Always drive cautiously, pay attention to what’s happening around you, and maintain a safe speed for the present road conditions. We hope this article helps you and your loved ones stay safe during your next drive!