With the recent spate of accidents on our roads, it’s time to relook at the causes.

Getting into a car accident can lead to several unwanted consequences, including permanent injuries, loss of earnings, etc. Why not do everything you can to avoid a car accident in the first place then?

We would like to help you understand the causes of car accidents, and therefore help you learn preventative measures for automobile accidents.

While some of these car accident causes may seem obvious and redundant to experienced drivers, this list aims to educate all levels of drivers, from the teenage driver who just got his licence, to the senior driver with 40 years experience behind the wheel. Learning to drive a car takes many instructional hours behind the wheel, especially if that driver wants to avoid causing automobile accidents.
A look at different examples of driver error and other causes of vehicle accidents.

Even with today’s technology and a greater emphasis on automobile safety, car accidents continue to occur. The causes of car accidents are pretty varied, but it is important for all of us — as members of the motoring public — to understand the most common causes of car accidents so that we can make every effort to prevent them.

There are two broad categories of causes when it comes to car accidents. The first is driver error, and the second category encompasses everything else. Driver error is by far the largest single cause of car accidents in the India.

What Causes Driver Error?

Within the category of driver error lays a variety of different types of driving behaviors that lead to car accidents. Driver error is most often the result of “distracted driving.” By far the most common cause of driver distraction is the use of cell phones.  25% of all automobile crashes are related to cell phone use, whether by talking on the phone or texting.

Why is this the case? Much of our decision-making while driving is a result of the “Myth of Multitasking”.

Medical studies have shown that the human brain is physiologically incapable of performing two important tasks as the same time. Rather, the brain engages in “micro-tasking.” The brain handles only one task at a time, but it switches very quickly, back and forth between competing tasks.

Because the brain cannot adequately process all of the information coming in, the brain selects to process only a part of the information. The result? We fall victim to the assumption that we are dealing with both tasks adequately, when in fact we are not effectively accomplishing either task.

The question then arises — How does this attempt at multitasking affect our driving? As drivers, the likelihood of avoiding any hazard depends largely on our ability to first perceive the hazard, and then take appropriate action to avoid it. The proper response can mean the difference between safely avoiding a road hazard and causing an accident. The margin of error is often only a matter of seconds. If the driver is engaged in an activity such as texting on a phone or adjusting the radio, the brain is less likely to perceive road hazards in sufficient time to allow for a safe response.

Other driver-based decisions also lead to car accidents, and they can operate in much the same way as distractions.

Alcohol was a factor in more than 40% of all automobile fatalities. A driver’s decision to consume alcohol and then get behind the wheel of a car results in decreased reaction time, poor vision, and poor decision-making.

Driving while fatigued has similar effects on drivers. Not only is a fatigued driver more likely to fall asleep while driving, but fatigue also slows reaction times when it comes to responding to hazards on the road. An intoxicated driver or a fatigued driver is much more likely to miss a traffic control signal such as a stop sign, compared with an alert driver.

Speeding is another source of driver error, and it is a common cause of accidents among young drivers.

Teen drivers are more likely to speed than adult drivers, and male teens are more likely to speed compared with their female counterparts. Those most likely to speed are also the least experienced drivers, and the least equipped to deal with a high-speed hazard encountered while driving. Poor decision-making also leads drivers to drive too fast for local conditions such as poor weather or bad visibility.

Causes of Car Accidents Not Related to Driver Error

There are also a number of non-driver related causes of car accidents. The physical condition of the roadway can play a significant role in causing a car accident. If a road is improperly maintained, that may make it difficult to maintain traction or to stop in time for a hazard.

The same holds true for weather conditions. Moisture — whether from rain or snow — can make a roadway slippery, again affecting driving conditions. Weather can also impair visibility when conditions include fog, rain, or snow.

The mechanical performance of your car can also play a role in the cause of accidents. A failure to properly maintain the brake system or tires may impede your ability to stop a car in advance of a hazard. Other mechanical issues may reduce your ability to steer clear of any hazard you encounter on the roadway.

1. Distracted Driving

The number one cause of car accidents is not a criminal that drove drunk, sped or ran a red light. Distracted drivers are the top cause of car accidents today. A distracted driver is a motorist that diverts his or her attention from the road, usually to talk on a cell phone, send a text message or eat food.

2. Speeding

You’ve seen them on the highway. Many drivers ignore the speed limit and drive 10, 20 and sometimes 30 mph over the limit. Speed kills, and traveling above the speed limit is an easy way to cause a car accident. The faster you drive, the slower your reaction time will be if you need to prevent an auto accident.

3. Drunk Driving

When you drink, you lose the ability to focus and function properly and its very dangerous when operating a vehicle. Driving under the influence of alcohol causes car accidents every day, even when they are one the top causes that can be avoided. Always use a designated driver if you go out and drink.

4. Reckless Driving

If you don’t drive carefully, and you may end up in a needless car accident. That’s what often happens to reckless drivers who speed, change lanes too quickly or tailgate before causing a car accident. Reckless drivers are often impatient in traffic so be sure to take extra care around aggressive drivers.

5. Rain

If the weather gets bad so do the roads. Car accidents happen very often in the rain because water creates slick and dangerous surfaces for cars, trucks, and motorcycles and often causes automobiles to spin out of control or skid while braking. To avoid a car accident, drive extra careful when it rains.

6. Running Red Lights

When you’re driving your car, red means stop and not doing so usually leads to car accidents. Drivers that run red lights, run the risk of causing wrongful death because they often cause side-impact collisions at high speeds. To avoid a car accident, look both ways for oncoming cars as you approach a green light.

7. Running Stop Signs

Stop signs should never be ignored, but when they are, serious car accidents are often the result. Each year, thousands of car accidents occur because one driver ran a stop sign. Many rollover accidents and side-impact car accidents result from drivers that run stop signs. You should always look both ways when proceeding through a stop sign.

8. Teenage Drivers

Youth is wasted on the young, but careful driving is never wasted on young drivers. Unfortunately, teenagers aren’t often known for their carefulness. When teen drivers hit the roads they don’t always know what to do and that lack of experience ends up causing car accidents.

9. Night Driving

Driving in the daylight can be hazardous, but driving at night nearly doubles the risk of a car accident occurring. When you can’t see what’s up ahead you don’t know what to anticipate as you drive towards it. As the sun goes down, your awareness of the road and cars around you must go up.

10. Design Defects

No product is ever made perfectly, and cars are no different. Automobiles have hundreds of parts, and any of those defective parts can cause a serious car accident. Many automakers have had problems with design defects in the past, including Ford Explorer rollover accidents and Toyota’s unintended acceleration crashes.

11. Unsafe Lane Changes

There will always come a time where you need to get over to another lane (i.e. exit from a freeway, get in the correct lane to make a turn, etc.). When drivers don’t make safe lane changes properly, it often leads to a car accident. To prevent a needless car accident, use your turn signal, check your blind spots and always proceed carefully into the next lane.

12. Wrong-Way Driving

Everyone has lapses in judgment, but when behind the wheel of a car, those clouded instincts can be deadly. You can turn down a street thinking it is a normal right turn, when in actuality, it is a one-way street in the opposite direction. When you go the wrong way, everyone is in danger because as you head towards a car accident.

13. Improper Turns

The reason that we have stop lights, turn signals, and lanes designated for moving either right or left as opposed to straight is because when drivers ignore the rules of the road, car accidents are often the result. To prevent a car accident, always look for signs and obey the proper right-of-way before you make a turn.

14. Tailgating

Many drivers are impatient and reckless, driving so close to another car that they cannot react in time if the car in front of them brakes suddenly. Many fatal car accidents have occurred when a motorist dangerously tailgated another driver at high speeds. You can prevent these car accidents by giving the car in front of you a one-car-length buffer for every 10 mph you drive.

15. Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

It’s not only alcohol that is dangerous when mixed with drivers on the road. Drugs, both legal and illegal, can impair your ability to fully function as a driver. If your mind isn’t clear and you don’t have complete control over your body, getting behind the wheel can lead to serious car accidents.

16. Road Rage

Everyone has been angry at another driver for one reason or another, but some drivers let their rage overcome them. By tailgating another driver in anger or speeding past another driver only to pull in front of them and brake, these road “ragers” cause many needless car accidents each year.

17. Potholes

Motorists in Goa are well aware of the dangers posed by potholes in the street. Drivers run the risk of losing control of their car or blowing out a tire when they drive over these potholes. If you see a pothole in your car’s path, you can avoid a car accident by making sure that your tires do not drive over it.

18. Drowsy Driving

Driver fatigue isn’t talked about a lot, but how well can we expect anyone to drive when they’re having trouble staying awake. Most of the car accidents caused by drowsy driving occur at night. If you find yourself wanting to fall asleep at the wheel, pull over when it’s safe and try to take a quick 30 minute power nap.

19. Tire Blowouts

Most highways are littered with the scattered remains of a tire blowout. Tire blowouts can cause you to lose control of your vehicle, and they are especially dangerous for bigger automobiles like semi-trucks. When encountering a tire blowout, try to maintain control of your vehicle and pull over safely and you will likely avoid a serious car accident.

20. Fog

Fog isn’t the most common weather occurrence, and that’s good news for car accidents statistics. Driving is a skill that requires the ability to see, but fog makes it extremely difficult to see sometimes more than a car length in front of you. Avoid car accidents by using your head lights — and never your high beams — when driving in the fog.

21. Deadly Curves

Some people call them dead man’s curves, but everyone should be careful when approaching a curve. Many motorists have lost control of their cars along a dangerous curve and lost their lives in a car accident. So when you approach these signs, take head of the posted speed limit and drive cautiously to avoid a car accident.

22. Animal Crossings

While drivers are required to know the rules of the roadway, wild animals do not take driver’s education. Wild animals will wade out into the street, and it’s up to you to make sure that you don’t get into a car accident with them. Take caution when you see an animal crossing sign and use your high beams when traveling in rural, woody areas.

23. Street Racing

Glorified by the Fast and the Furious movie franchise, street racing is an underground culture of fast cars and deadly car accidents. With turbo engines and nitrous oxide boosters, cars often reach very high speeds during a street race, making any resulting car accident much more dangerous and unlikely to yield any survivors.

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