Car accidents happen every day. But more often than not, they’re avoidable. What you need to know to keep safe is why collisions happen, how to avoid car accidents, and what to do if you’re in one. We put all that information into one place to help you out.
If you couldn’t avoid a crash and are hurt, contact Pierce Skrabanek PLLC at (832) 690-7000.
The Most Common Car Accidents
Risky driving behaviors are behind most accidents. Various factors, such as bad weather, poor road conditions, vehicle defects, and others, are beyond your control.
Many of the most common causes of car accidents are under your control, though, including:
- Speeding, either above the posted limit or too fast for conditions
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol, medications, or illegal drugs
- Failing to stay in the proper lane
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Failing to obey traffic signs and signals
- Driving recklessly or erratically
- Overcorrecting the steering wheel, which is particularly dangerous during bad weather
How to Avoid Car Accidents
Here are five strategies to reduce your risk of being in a car accident.
1. Driving Defensively
Driving defensively means looking out for hazards. Watching out for what could go wrong enables you to react to other drivers quickly and avoid collisions. A tip is to consistently scan the road 25 feet ahead of you. A good way to do this is to pay attention to the vehicle in front of the car directly in front of you.
Look for pedestrians on sidewalks, at intersections, at marked crosswalks, and between parked cars. It isn’t enough to observe what other cars are doing—everyone’s safest when you watch out for motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians, too.
Being prepared for anything means maintaining appropriate posture behind the wheel. Keep your hands at roughly nine and three o’clock unless you have to move a hand to shift gears.
2. Reducing Your Speed
Watch how fast you’re going at all times. It sounds simple, but it’s become a common belief that everyone speeds. That’s why speeding has contributed to about one-third of motor vehicle fatalities and even more accidents over the past two decades, the NHTSA reported.
Speed factored into the higher car accident fatality rate in 2020. Fewer people were on the road, but many of those who drove engaged in risky behavior, like speeding.
The faster you drive, the harder it is to control your car and the longer it takes to stop. The faster you’re going when you collide with another vehicle or person, the greater the likelihood of the crash causing serious injuries or death. To keep that off your conscience, drive the speed limit at all times, and in bad weather, drive slower.
3. Staying Alert
Think about whether you’ve had enough sleep before starting the ignition. There were an estimated 91,000 crashes involving drowsy drivers in 2017, according to the NHTSA. Those crashes caused about 50,000 people injuries and close to 800 deaths.
Driving when you’re overly tired decreases your situational awareness and impairs your judgment. Even if you notice a possible hazard, sleepiness slows your reaction time. You’re better off calling a rideshare or napping in a well-lit parking lot than driving while drowsy.
4. Limiting Distractions
Distracted driving is more than using a cellphone while driving. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains three types of distraction: Visual, manual, and cognitive.
You’re distracted if something pulls:
- Your eyes from the road (visual distraction),
- Your hands off the wheel (manual distraction), or
- Your mind away from your task (cognitive distraction).
Distracted driving crashes cause about 3,000 deaths each year, according to the CDC.
The safest way to drive is without anything competing for your attention. That includes talking with passengers, adjusting music, eating, drinking, doing your makeup, reading, or fiddling with GPS or your phone. Ready yourself before setting out, and if you need GPS directions, learn to follow voice commands without looking at the map.
5. Driving Sober
When you realize the toll drunk driving takes, you won’t be tempted to drive while impaired. Nearly 30 people in the U.S. die every day in drunk driving crashes, according to the NHTSA. That’s over 10,000 people every year.
The effects on your driving as your blood alcohol concentration increases include:
- Your visual function and ability to perform two tasks at once decline.
- You’re less able to track moving objects, and your reduced coordination makes it harder to steer.
- You have a slower response time.
- Your perception is impaired, and you have trouble processing information, like what you’re seeing.
- You stop being able to control your speed, stay in one lane, and brake when needed.
- You lose the ability to focus on the driving task and are too physically and mentally impaired to control the vehicle.
When you want to have drinks with friends, plan ahead. Stay the night at the host’s home, designate a sober driver, or request an Uber or Lyft.
Serious and Deadly Car Accidents Are Common
An estimated 28,190 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the first nine months of 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That was a 4.6% increase in fatalities compared to the first nine months of 2019 despite fewer vehicle miles traveled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The most recent data we have from the Texas Department of Transportation is from 2019. That year, 256,338 people were injured, and 15,843 suffered serious injuries in crashes. We also know there were 3,610 motor vehicle accident deaths. One person died every 2 hours and 26 minutes in Texas in 2019 because of wrecks.
Though car accidents often feel inevitable, there are many ways to reduce your risk of being involved in a crash.
Were You Hurt in a Crash?
Despite doing everything right, you or a loved one could be in a crash. If you or your loved one suffered serious injuries, the best thing to do is talk with an auto accident lawyer in Houston, TX, about your rights and options.
Our attorneys at Pierce Skrabanek PLLC can explain when you have the right to demand car accident compensation through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. The law may entitle you to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and more. We’ll guide you through the process, no matter how difficult or complex. We don’t back down, even when major insurers want to protect their bottom line.
How to Avoid Car Accidents: FAQs