Understanding the most common causes of car crashes may help alert you to what signs you should be looking for in the conduct of other drivers. As a preliminary matter, note the use of the term “car crashes” not “car accidents.” This is because most car crashes are not accidents, but rather avoidable collisions.
Distracted driving means engaging in any conduct that takes your eyes and your mind off the road and the task at hand. This can include talking on your phone; texting; giving attention to an accident or roadside stop by law enforcement rather than keeping your eyes on the road; reading a book or a map (Yes! People do that!); putting on make up; disciplining children in the back seat; or picking up a dropped cigarette.
According to a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, sending a text message increases the risk of a crash or near crash two fold. The study found that people sending text messages took their eyes off the road for 23 seconds, on average. Interestingly, the actual use of a cell phone for a phone call did not increase the risk of a crash. However, the activities required to make a phone call, such as reaching for the phone, locating a contact’s phone number, and dialing the phone led to a three fold increase in crash risk.
Speeding contributes to car crashes in a couple of different ways. First, the faster a car is covering any given distance, the less time the car has to avoid the crash. Even in cases where a crash may be unavoidable, a speeding car will be unable to slow down as much as a car that is not speeding. Thus, the damage caused by the car crash will necessarily increase.
Intoxicated driving is 100 percent preventable. Intoxicated driving is always a choice. This includes driving after having several drinks. Everyone processes alcohol differently, and gender and weight can have an impact. Understand, however, one can reach a .08 blood alcohol concentration with just three drinks in an hour. Driving after having taken illegal drugs can also impair judgement and lead to car crashes. Finally, driving under the influence of prescription drugs can be intoxicated driving, depending on the symptoms that come with taking certain drugs. Care should be taken when starting a new prescription, to determine what side effects, if any, may result in taking the drug.
Reckless driving is defined in the state of Georgia as one who “drives any vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property,” under Georgia Statute § 40-6-390. This could include speeding, weaving in and out of lanes, passing on the shoulder, and tailgating. If you find yourself in traffic with a reckless driver, do not engage them. Rather, find a way to let them pass you and move on. There is nothing wrong with pulling over to allow a tailgater to pass you. Slamming on the brakes might seem to be a more satisfying response, but it is not safe. This could easily lead to a car crash.
Dangerous Weather Conditions
It’s no secret that dangerous weather conditions can impact safe driving. It is important to remember that speed limits are limits. When there is an excessive downpour of rain, visibility is necessarily limited. Drivers should slow down. Because visibility is limited, drivers will not have as much time to observe obstructions in the road or stopped traffic. Snow and ice should also cause drivers to slow down. Slippery conditions can result in cars going off the road, or sliding into the car in front of them. In addition to slowing down, drivers should take extra care to add additional space between their car and the car in front of them.
Running Red Lights and Stop Signs
As a general rule, running red lights and stop signs is a by product of distracted driving, where the driver does not realize there is a stop sign or stop light at the intersection. However, there are other times where a driver chooses to simply disregard the stop sign or stop light. Finally, there have been multiple documented instances wherein a driver misjudges the length of time a light will remain yellow. Sometimes drivers speed up to get into an intersection while the light is still yellow. Sometimes, they succeed. Sometimes they do not, but go through the intersection anyway. Naturally, this could easily result in a car crash or a crash with a pedestrian.
Driving at Night
According to Forbes magazine, fatal crashes are fairly evenly split between daytime and nighttime. But the fatality rate per mile of travel is three times as high at night as during daytime hours. Part of the difficulty with nighttime driving is that your eyes adjust to the lower level of light, and then respond to oncoming traffic. The varying amount of light can make functioning at 100 percent difficult. Additionally, it is more likely that there will be drunk drivers on the road at night as opposed to during the day. Finally, drowsy drivers are more frequently on the road during night time hours.
Drowsy drivers can also be a danger to others. Driver fatigue is dangerous because it can result in slower reaction times as well as reduced attention to the road. The symptoms of driver fatigue can include yawning, nodding off, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, and general feelings of exhaustion. If you feel these symptoms, it is a good idea to either find another driver or find another means of transportation.
Overall Words of Advice
Car crashes can cause serious injury or even death. This can lead to both criminal and civil penalties. Being aware of the leading causes of car crashes is a critical first step to avoiding them.
If You Have Been Injured In a Car Crash
If you have been injured in a car crash, you should contact a qualified personal injury attorney right away. Your attorney can review the facts and circumstances of your case to determine whether you have a claim, and how much you might be entitled to. Contact the skilled car accident attorneys in Atlanta at the Bader Law Firm, LLC today.