The moment any driver puts a key in the ignition and drives a vehicle onto the road, they are taking a risk. Car accidents can happen at any moment when a driver is behind the wheel and a number of different circumstances can lead to them. To stay as safe as possible while on the road, it’s important to understand the causes of car accidents and how to avoid them.
Whether it’s eating, riffling through the glove box or searching for a good song to play, we’ve all been guilty of taking our eyes off the road from time to time. But perhaps the worst type of distraction while driving is cell phone usage. According to the National Safety Council website, “more than 432,000 car accidents involving drivers using cell phones or electronic devices have occurred this year.” Cell phone usage while driving causes “26 percent of car accidents nationwide,” according to the NSC. In fact, nearly five percent of car accidents involve texting. Drivers talking on handheld or hands-free phones account for 21 percent of crashes. With electronic devices becoming intertwined with almost every aspect of our lives, it can be difficult to unplug and disconnect, but keeping a cell phone out of reach while driving might just save your life.
Every day, 28 people die as a result of drunk driving crashes, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. It’s estimated that drunk driving costs more than $100 billion a year. It is never safe to drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol but it is also illegal (TCA 55-10-401 and 55-10-403). The Tennessee Highway Patrol alone had 5,428 DUI Arrests from the fiscal year of 2011-2012. According to the law individuals are presumed to be under the influence of alcohol with a BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) of .08%.
One of the top causes of accidents is due to speeding. In 2007, nearly 31 percent of all fatal crashes were “speeding-related resulting in 13,040 fatalities,” according to the NHTSA. Racing, driving too fast for conditions and exceeding the posted speed limit are all different categories of speeding and all of them are equally dangerous. Not only is speeding dangerous, but it’s costly as well. The NHTSA estimates that speeding-related crashes carry an economic cost of $40 billion per year.
Feeling sleepy? If so, it’s not a good idea to get behind the wheel of a vehicle. It’s extremely important to be fully awake, energized and alert while operating a vehicle. According to the NHTSA, drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes a year. Of those crashes, 1,550 are fatal. Fatigued or drowsy drivers are likely to be alone in the vehicle, driving during the light night or early morning hours and younger (between ages 16 to 29). Many drowsy or fatigued drivers may also have an untreated or unrecognized sleep disorder, according to the NHTSA.
Perhaps one of the most overlooked causes of accidents is road rage. Since 1990, reports of “aggressive driving” have increased by seven percent every year, according to the AAA foundation for Traffic Safety. In order to keep calm while driving and avoid instances of road rage, the AAA recommends that drivers listen to music or books on tape, provide plenty of time to reach their destination and rearrange schedules to avoid traffic and congestion.