Despite the improvement in vehicle safety technology, the number of people killed or injured in car accidents continue to rise. Nearly 1.2 million people die each year on our nation’s roads, and that number if expected to rise by 65 percent by the year 2020 according to a study by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the WorldBank. According to the National Traffic Safety Board (the NTSB), automobile accidents are the leading cause of death among people aged 3 to 33.
So what are the leading causes of automobile accidents?
1. Distracted drivers – Drivers who are not paying attention to the road in frontof them and the traffic around them. They may be talking on a cell phone (a hands-free cell phone does not reduce the amount of accidents as opposed to holding a cell phone up to your ear), texting, rubbernecking (slowing down to gawk at another accident), looking at scenery, talking with other passengers or tending to a child in the back seat, adjusting the radio or CD player, applying make-up, using an electric razor, or reading a map, book, newspaper, or other document.
2. Driver fatigue, especially between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.
3. Drunk driving – during the week, drunk drivers are responsible for about30 percent of automobile-related deaths; this figure increases to 53 percenton the weekend. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD),someone is killed by a drunk driver every 40 minutes. Most of the people whoare involved in drunk-driving accidents are repeat offenders who have been convicted of an alcohol-related crime or have driven while under the influence before.
4. Speeding – speeding reduces the amount of time you have to react to a hazard in the road or increases the length of road surface you need to stop in to avoid hitting the car in front of you. Not only does speeding increase the chances of getting into an automobile accident, it increases the severity of the accident.
5. Aggressive Driving – This is defined as operating an automobile in a selfish, bold, or push manner, without regard for the rights or safety of the other users of the street or highway. This includes such behavior as tailgating; flashingyour lights at other drivers because they irritate you or you are speeding and want the car ahead of you to speed up or change lines; aggressive or rudegestures; disregarding traffic signs and signals; changing lanes frequently or in an unsafe manner; and failure to yield the right of way. “Road rage” is anothercause of automobile accidents.
6. Weather conditions – rain, snow, ice, heavy fog and other weather conditionscontribute to a number of automobile accidents; in such situations, the driver should slow down and leave extra room between the car in front of him or her.In severe conditions, the best thing is to stop at the side of the road and waituntil the weather conditions improve.
7. Driver Carelessness – This can be caused by several factors: age (young andold), inexperience, fear of the road, driving too fast or too slow, tending tochildren, talking to passengers, and eating while driving.
8. Unsafe lane changes – Changing lanes without properly signaling or lookingat the lane you are moving into to make sure there are no cars or motorcyclesthere.
Drivers engaged in any of the above behaviors who cause an accident may be held monetarily liable for the personal injuries, deaths, and property damage they inflict. If you have been injured in an automobile accident, contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible.