What Is the Most Common Cause of Collision?
Area police responded to two separate, unrelated car crashes that involved injuries.
The first accident involved serious injuries to a woman, who required air transport to the hospital, as well as three children ranging in age between seven and 10, who were transported on the ground to a local hospital with injuries that were believed to be non-life threatening. The driver of the other car in that accident declined medical treatment at the scene.
In another accident a half hour later, a woman who had been hit by a car was found injured in a parking lot. She was flown to the hospital due to the severity of her injuries, which occurred on her lower extremities. The driver in that accident fled the scene.
These accidents, though separate and very distinct from each other, have a likely common cause, as do the majority of the more than 3,000 accidents involving serious injuries in the state each year. That common cause? Human error.
What Is Human Error (and How Does It Cause Accidents)?
Humans make mistakes. That’s just a fact of life. Usually, other people’s mistakes have little impact on your life. But not always. Mistakes made behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, for instance, have often-deadly consequences.
According to numerous studies, human error is the cause of more than 90 percent of motor vehicle accidents. Some examples of human errors and how they cause accidents include:
- Distracted driving: Distracted driving is a major source of accidents in the U.S., claiming more than 3,000 lives across the nation each year. Drivers can get distracted in three fundamental ways. Manual distractions are those that involve the driver taking his or her hands from the wheel. Visual distractions draw the driver’s eyes from the road ahead. Cognitive distractions pull the driver’s mind from the (more complicated than you might realize) task of driving. These days, texting represents one of the most concerning and dangerous driver actions behind the wheel, because it implicates all three categories of distraction: (1) typing instead of holding the wheel; (2) looking at a screen instead of the road; and (3) engaging with the mental process of using a screen to send a message instead of with keeping your car at the correct speed and in the correct lane, while paying adequate attention to your surroundings. Other common driver distractions include other cell phone use such as talking on the phone, reading email, or browsing social media; adjusting vehicle or stereo controls; eating or drinking; applying makeup; visiting with other passengers in the car; and paying attention to external distractions such as work zones, people in other cars, or billboards.
- Alcohol-impaired driving: Drunk driving results in the deaths of 30 people a day in the U.S. Alcohol impairs driving abilities such as tracking moving targets, staying in a travel lane, reacting to hazards, and making sound safety decisions.
- Fatigue: Driving while excessively tired is just as dangerous as driving while drunk. Fatigue impairs a driver’s abilities in the same way alcohol does. Always get adequate rest before driving, and pull off the road to a safe place if you begin to feel drowsy behind the wheel.
- Speeding: Nearly 10,000 people die each year due to accidents caused by a speeding driver. Speeding not only reduces the amount of time that a driver has to detect and react to hazards on the roadway ahead, but it also results in more time required for the vehicle to come to a safe stop and may render the vehicle’s crash safety equipment, including airbags and seat belts, less effective in a crash.
- Tailgating: Tailgating is the act of following another vehicle too closely. Following too closely is a major cause of the most common type of two-vehicle accident: the rear-end collision. It is strongly recommended that drivers allow at least one car length between their car and the one in front of them for every 10 miles per hour of speed they’re traveling to ensure that they have enough time to stop if the vehicle ahead suddenly stops or slows down.
Preventing Human Error When Driving
While it is impossible to prevent every traffic accident or to predict when someone’s error in judgment or skill is going to cause an accident, there are things you can do to avoid having your own human mistakes result in a crash that may cause serious injury, or even death.
Some tips include:
- Do not drive if you’re impaired by alcohol or drugs, if you haven’t had enough sleep, or if you feel particularly emotional, as all of these conditions will impact your ability to drive safely and to exercise good judgment behind the wheel.
- Obey traffic laws, including those pertaining to speed limits. Be sure to come to a complete stop at intersections where you are required to do so and to carefully look for approaching vehicles before pulling onto the road.
- Be sure to signal your intentions every time you change lanes or turn so that other drivers can anticipate and react to your vehicle.
- Allow space between your vehicle and those around you to account for sudden hazards, such as a driver who changes lanes without signaling or a car in front of yours that stops suddenly.
- Be mindful of your emotions when driving. Road rage fuels aggressive driving maneuvers such as speeding or suddenly changing lanes, which can cause accidents. If you find yourself the target of someone else’s road rage, take care not to provoke that individual through eye contact, angry gestures or other forms of retaliation. If you find yourself getting angry while driving, there are things you can do to alleviate the stress, including leaving a little earlier, selecting a route where there is less traffic, and listening to soothing music while driving.
If you have sustained an injury in a collision caused by someone else’s human error, you may have the right to take legal action for compensation. An experienced car accident attorney can help you understand the legal options available to you.
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