Car accidents can happen at any time and for a wide variety of reasons. However, some of those reasons are more common than others. Here’s a look at a few of the leading causes of traffic accidents and what you can do to help protect yourself.
Distraction While Driving
Distracted driving leads to more traffic accidents than any other cause, and there are a lot of actions that fall under this category. Adjusting the radio or GPS, tending to squabbling children in the backseat, watching passersby on the side of the road and more can all take a driver’s eyes off the road. One of the worst offenses in this category is operating a cell phone while driving. Even with laws against phone use while driving in many states across the country, many drivers continue to flout these rules. This leads to accidents that could largely have been prevented.
While there is not much you can do to prevent other drivers from being distracted, there are still steps you can take to protect yourself. It is always best to drive defensively. This means you attempt to anticipate the actions other drivers might take so that you are prepared to avoid collisions. While this won’t necessarily prevent all traffic accidents, it can give you more time to react to unexpected situations, potentially reducing the severity of the accident if not eliminating it entirely.
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Of course, you should also do everything in your power to keep yourself focused on the road. Put your phone away while driving or only use its hands-free capabilities. If you need to change your music, try to only do it when stopped so you can keep your eyes on the road as much as possible, especially in areas where traffic and sudden stops are common.
Driving under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or some prescription medications is prohibited in all 50 states. However, there are still those that drive while impaired or intoxicated. Mind-altering substances can dramatically reduce reaction time, making it more difficult to avoid crashes. They also contribute to driver distraction and can even impair sight, like when overconsumption of alcohol leads to double-vision.
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Driving under the influence can happen at any time of the day, though it is more common at night. Be on the lookout for any vehicles moving erratically, as that could signal that the driver is impaired. Do your best to give them a wide berth in case they do anything unexpected. When it comes to yourself, never drive while under the influence. Use a designated driver, taxi, ride-sharing service or public transportation to keep yourself and others on the road safe.
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Speed limits are in place for a reason, and it is important to follow them at all times. The faster you drive, the longer it will take you to bring your vehicle to a stop. Not only that, but accidents at high speeds are often far more severe than those at lower velocities. Always follow posted speed limits, and if you are unsure, take cues from other vehicles around you. There may be other cars going faster or slower than the speed limit, so aim to strike a balance between the highest and lowest speeds of the vehicles on the road with you. If needed, adjust your speed when you find an official speed limit sign.
Rain, snow, ice and other inclement conditions can contribute to traffic accidents as well. Poor weather conditions can make it more difficult to stop or change lanes safely to avoid crashes. While you can’t control the weather, you can control how you drive in it. When visibility is low or road conditions are poor, slow down and give yourself plenty of following distance behind the next car. Although this won’t help to prevent all accidents, it does still make a difference. Additionally, signal any turns or lane changes well in advance to give other drivers time to react.