Data for car accidents in the U.S. can be pretty grim. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in just 2016 alone, there were more than 37,000 fatal crashes, which works out to close to 12 deaths for every 100,000 people. On top of fatal accidents, there are accidents without deaths as well, which still happen daily and result in injuries and losses to those involved.
Knowing the top accident causes may not save you a trip to a personal injury law firm in Kent after you’ve been in an accident, but understanding the typical culprits in these cases might help you avoid crashes in the future.
Driving While Distracted
A person driving while distracted is becoming the leading cause of accidents nationwide. Once associated with simply using your phone while driving, distracted driving has been expanded to include things like talking to other people in the car, eating, grooming, using on-board gadgets and any other behaviors that take your attention off the road and its surroundings. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 3,000 people died in distracted driving crashes in 2016. Texting is especially dangerous because it takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an estimated five seconds. Over that length of time, a person driving 55 mph can travel a distance equal to an entire football field. The NHTSA also reports that approximately 481,000 people drive while using their cellphone each day during daylight hours, and it’s a particularly big problem among younger drivers.
Because of this increasingly deadly trend, many states, including Washington, have laws banning the use of cell phones while a person is driving unless the device is entirely hands-free. Washington’s laws on distracted driving have been labeled as being among the strictest in the nation and ban even holding electronic devices in your hand while your car is stopped in traffic and the application of makeup or eating while you’re behind the wheel. Tougher laws can help deter this sort of behavior, but it still remains a problem nationwide, especially as auto makers install more display screens and other potential sources of electronic distractions into vehicles.
Speeding is a well-known cause of car accidents. When someone speeds, they decrease the amount of time they and other drivers have to react to dangerous conditions or situations and boost the amount of force involved in collisions. Often seen with other hazardous behaviors such as failure to yield, tailgating, unsafe lane changes and aggressive driving, the NHTSA reports that speeding was a factor in 27 percent of all accident-related deaths in 2016. Some states have reduced speed limits in areas with high crash rates, but others have actually increased the limits in response to frequent traffic congestion.
Driving While Intoxicated
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs continues to be a leading cause of traffic accidents across the country. This is because narcotics, alcohol and some types of prescription medications can impair a driver’s ability to concentrate, react and perceive a situation. The NHTSA says that close to 29 people die each day in the U.S. in substance-related accidents. Despite the decrease in drunk driving accidents overall from previous years thanks to more public awareness and stiffer penalties, these types of crashes still claim more than 10,000 lives on America’s roads annually.
Knowing the causes of accidents on the road can help everyone remain safer. Always keep your attention focused on the road when you’re driving, stay underneath the speed limit and never drive if you’ve had anything to drink or have taken any drugs that can impair your judgment. If you see anyone you suspect is speeding, driving distracted or driving while under the influence, try to get your own vehicle as far away from them as possible and alert the authorities. Doing so can help prevent accidents and save lives.
A car accident can have serious consequences on your life in terms of health and finances. If you’ve been in a car accident, you may be able to receive compensation for your losses and suffering. Speak to an experienced personal injury law firm in Kent about your case as soon as possible to protect all your rights.