Each year, there are more than 11 million motor vehicle accidents in United States. This averages out to more than 30,000 accidents each and every day. Alabama is ranked the third deadliest state in the nation for fatal car crashes (according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), with 19.4 deaths per hundred thousand population reported in 2017.
It is estimated that approximately 94% of all auto accidents are caused by some type of human error. This means that more than nine out of every 10 accidents are preventable. The other 6% result from uncontrollable factors such as poor weather or a deer running in front of an oncoming vehicle.
Of the accidents that are preventable, there are several reasons why they occur. Here are five common causes of car accidents:
Distracted driving has become a leading cause of auto accidents in recent years. A large-scale study conducted by Virginia Tech that was published in 2016 found that two-thirds of drivers are dealing with some type of distraction during the seconds prior to a car accident. Of course, motorists have always had distractions, but the widespread use of smartphones has made the problem far worse.
Texting while driving and similar activities distract drivers in three ways; manually, visually, and cognitively. This takes the driver's attention completely away from the road, which puts them at much greater risk of a crash. In fact, taking your eyes off of the road for just five seconds to send or receive a text while driving at 55 mph is similar to driving the entire length of a football field blindfolded.
Exceeding the Speed Limit
Just about every driver has gone over the speed limit at one time or another, but there are some motorists who do this routinely. There is a reason for the posted speed limits, and when drivers exceed them, they put themselves at greater risk of an accident. The faster someone drives, the less time they have to react to a potential road hazard. And this is why speeding is so deadly.
A large number of accidents are caused by motorists who are overly aggressive or even reckless with their driving habits. Excessive speeding is one common form of reckless driving. Others include running stop signs and stop lights, weaving back and forth between lanes, straddling the center line in the road, illegal/unsafe passing maneuvers, illegal/improper turns, wrong-way driving, tailgating, and street racing.
Driving while intoxicated is another one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents. Despite more than three decades of high-profile public awareness campaigns that highlight the dangers of drunk driving, far too many people ignore the warnings and get behind the wheel after having too much to drink. Chemically impaired driving causes motorists to lose focus and react more slowly to adverse conditions on the road. Alcohol and drugs also alter an individual's mindset, which can result in reckless driving behavior. Either one of these extremes puts drunk drivers and everyone else on the road in greater danger.
One driving behavior that does not get as much attention as those previously mentioned is drowsy driving. Driving while drowsy or fatigued is not illegal, but that does not mean it is not dangerous. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), there are approximately 100,000 police-reported crashes that involve a drowsy driver, resulting in 71,000 injuries in more than 1,550 fatalities. The NSC goes on to say that these numbers are underreported, because drowsiness is often not listed as a cause of accident on the police report. A more accurate estimate by AAA puts the number of annual drowsy driving-related crashes at 328,000, with 109,000 of them resulting in injury and 6,400 of them being fatal.
We all know that falling asleep at the wheel can be disastrous, but even if a tired driver does not fall asleep, they still lose focus, making it easier to miss important things that are happening on the road, and making it harder to react when danger arises. Drowsy driving is most common with individuals who get six hours or less of sleep per night, and the groups that are at the highest risk include commercial vehicle drivers, those who work long shifts that go into the evening and overnight hours, those with untreated sleep disorders, and those who travel frequently between time zones.
Injured in an Auto Accident in Alabama? Speak with a Skilled and Knowledgeable Attorney
Car accidents can happen to anyone, and most of them are preventable. If you or a loved one suffered injury in a motor vehicle accident that was someone else's fault, you deserve to be fully compensated. If the accident happened in Alabama, call the Mike Bell Accident & Injury Lawyers – Birmingham. Our firm has an established track record successfully representing those who have been injured through no fault of their own, and we are ready to go to work for you!
Call our office today at 205-666-6000 or message us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced accident injury lawyers.