Car accidents are, unfortunately, all too common. While some accidents are caused by factors beyond our control, like poor weather conditions or faulty car parts, there are many things we can do to reduce our risk of being involved in one. By understanding the most common causes of car accidents, we can be more vigilant when we’re behind the wheel and do our best to avoid potential hazards.
1. Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is any activity that takes our attention away from the task of driving. Eating, talking to passengers, fiddling with the stereo, or looking at something outside the car can all increase our risk of being involved in an accident. Texting is extremely hazardous because it requires us to take our eyes off the road for extended periods. Drivers who text are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near-crash than those who keep their eyes on the road.
When we speed, we increase our risk of being involved in an accident and decrease our ability to react quickly if something unexpected happens on the road. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding contributed to 29% of fatal crashes in 2020.
3. Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs impairs our judgment, vision, coordination, and reaction time—all critical skills we need to operate a vehicle safely. Driving under the influence puts yourself and everyone on the road at risk.
4. Drowsy Driving
Drowsy driving is similar to driving under the influence in that it decreases our ability to pay attention to the road and react quickly if necessary. If you’re tired while behind the wheel, pull over at a rest stop, take a nap, or switch drivers if possible.
5. Running Red Lights
Running red lights is incredibly dangerous because it increases the likelihood of colliding with oncoming traffic—and often at high speeds since drivers rarely slow down when approaching a yellow light.
Ways to Avoid Car Accidents
1. Pay Attention to Your Surroundings
This may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many accidents happen because someone isn’t paying attention to their surroundings. When you’re driving, keep your eyes on the road and be aware of what’s happening around you. This includes other cars, pedestrians, cyclists, and animals. If you see something that could potentially cause an accident, take evasive action if possible. The last thing you want is to be caught off-guard by something and cause an accident yourself.
2. Obey the Speed Limit
We all know how tempting it is to go just a little over the speed limit when we’re in a hurry, but it’s not worth it. Speeding not only increases your chances of getting into an accident but also increases the severity of an accident if one does happen. So next time you’re running late for an appointment, just accept that you’ll be late and commit to leaving earlier next time instead of pushing the limits of the law. Your life could depend on it.
3. Don’t Drive Tired or Impaired
Driving while tired or impaired is never a good idea. If you can help it, don’t drive late at night or early in the morning when you’re likely to be tired. If you must drive during these times, stop for coffee before getting behind the wheel. Or instead, you could call a cab or Uber/Lyft to get where you need to go without putting yourself and others at risk. And obviously, never get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking alcohol or taking drugs—prescription or otherwise—that could impair your ability to drive safely.
4. Have Minor Issues in Your Car Repaired
One of the best ways to reduce your risk of being involved in a car accident is to ensure your vehicle is in good condition. This means more than just regularly changing the oil and checking the tires; it also means addressing any minor issues within the car, like a crack in the windshield. Even a small one can impair your vision and make it more difficult to react to potential hazards on the road, so if you’re dealing with that, take your vehicle to a place that offers auto glass repair as soon as possible. This way, you can help to ensure that you’ll be able to see clearly and stay safe while on the road.
While there is no 100% foolproof way to avoid car accidents altogether, following these tips will help decrease your chances of being involved in one. And as always, buckle up—it could save your life!