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The 6 Leading Causes of Car Accidents & How to Prevent Them

The 6 Leading Causes of Car Accidents & How to Prevent Them - An image of a woman holding the back of her neck after getting into a car accident.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are 6 million car accidents on average each year in the United States. Even though the majority of these collisions are not fatal, they still claim thousands of lives each year.

Most car accidents are caused by human error. Paying attention to the road and making sure you’re following all traffic laws can reduce your risk of being involved in an accident.

Here’s a list of the 6 leading causes of car accidents and how you can prevent them to keep yourself and those around you safer on the road.

1. Distracted Driving

Distracted driving has become the leading cause of car accidents, especially as technology has evolved to allow for easier distractions on mobile devices.

You should always pay attention to the road while driving.

Avoid using your phone, eating, applying makeup, and other tasks that take your eyes off the road while you are behind the wheel.

Studies have found that texting while driving makes you 23x more likely to be involved in an accident.

Although you may be tempted to multi-task even while you’re on the road, these things can wait. It’s more important that you make it home safely than take the risk to send a text to a friend or family member.

2. Driving Under the Influence

Driving while intoxicated is the most dangerous cause of car accidents, leading to a higher fatality rate among crashes.

Never drive when you’re under the influence. If you plan to consume alcohol, always make sure you have a designated driver or another safe option to get home other than climbing behind the wheel. Even if you think you are only buzzed, alcohol inhibits your motor skills, vision, and your ability to think clearly.

Read our Guide to Getting Home Safely for more helpful info.

3. Reckless Driving

Although both distracted and drunk driving can be classified as reckless, this category assumes that the person behind the wheel is fully in charge of their decisions and driving unimpaired.

Reckless driving includes speeding, driving aggressively, and not obeying traffic laws.

There’s a reason speed limits exist. However, speeding is the second leading cause of car accidents. Whether you are running late or just feeling impatient, resisting the urge to speed and adhering to the posted speed limit will keep you and the other drivers around you safer on the road.

Driving aggressively can also lead to accidents. It’s important to remain calm behind the wheel so you can make smarter and safer decisions that do not put you or other drives at risk.

Avoid changing lanes too quickly or without checking your blind spots, and always make sure you stop at red lights and stop signs.

Also, never tailgate the car in front of you. Always leave enough room for yourself to brake so you don’t cause a fender bender.

4. Inclement Weather

Driving in rain, fog, snow, and wind is inevitable for most people.

The safest way to drive in any hazardous weather is to make sure you take caution. Drive slow enough to maintain control of your car and leave enough stopping distance between you and the other cars around you.

However, if your visibility or your control over your vehicle is impaired by inclement weather, it is always safer to avoid driving until the storm passes. If you find yourself on the road in inclement conditions, find a place to pull over until conditions improve. Running late is favorable to ending up in an accident due to unsafe driving conditions.

5. Vehicle Defects + Maintenance Issues

Some accidents can be caused by issues with your vehicle. Avoid these by paying attention to any recalls on your vehicle and taking it in for service when recommended.

Flat tires can often also cause accidents. If you get a flat tire while on the road, try to stay calm. Keep control of the wheel and find somewhere to pull over as quickly as possible.

To avoid flat tires and other vehicle malfunctions, make sure your car is well maintained. Always get your oil changed on time, check your car’s fluid levels, and keep the proper amount of air in your tires.

Also, if you know there is an issue with your vehicle, take it in for service to get it resolved as quickly as possible.

6. Road Conditions

Various conditions on the road that you can’t control can also cause accidents.

Construction sites, for example, often cause delays and confusion for drivers with unclear direction. Drive slowly when there is construction, so you are able to pay attention to road signs and follow signals if someone is directing traffic.

Always pay attention to the road in front of you as well to keep an eye out for potholes. Potholes can cause damage to your car without even involving another vehicle if you hit them while going at a high enough speed. When you are able to do so safely, drive around potholes to avoid damaging your car.

Animal crossings are another road factor that is often unexpected. Keep an eye out for deer and other animals while driving in rural areas, especially later at night.

Following these prevention tips can help you decrease your risk of being involved in a car accident.

Remember to always pay attention to the road, and never indulge in distracted driving or drive under the influence. Also, always be prepared to respond safely to unexpected vehicle emergencies, inclement weather, and road conditions.

Thanks for driving safely!

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