Car accidents continue to be one of the most common causes of accidental death and injury in the United States. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of accidental fatalities for children, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that there were over 6.7 million traffic accidents in the United States in 2018. The accidents resulted in 36,560 fatalities and over 2.7 million injuries.
Various factors can contribute to the cause of car accidents. Some factors, such as poor weather conditions and hazardous road conditions, might not be within the control of a motorist. However, many car accidents are caused by driver error or negligence.
Five of the most common causes of car accidents are:
1. Distracted Driving
Distracted driving continues to be one of the most common causes of car crashes in the United States. During 2018, distracted driving resulted in 2,841 fatalities and an estimated 400,000 injuries.
A common form of distracted driving is cell phone use. Using a cell phone while driving involves all three major forms of distractions – physical, visual, and cognitive, which makes cell phone use one of the most dangerous types of distracted driving.
Many states enacted laws regarding cell phones and driving to reduce the number of distracted driving accidents caused by cell phone use. Some states have or are in the process of enacting laws that include a fine for using a cell phone while driving.
Other forms of distracted driving include, but are not limited to:
- Reading or writing
- Eating and drinking
- Reaching for objects
- Adjusting GPS or vehicle controls
- Taking care of children or pets
- Using social media
2. Impaired Driving
Approximately 30 people are killed in drunk driving accidents in the United States each day. In 2018, 10,511 people were killed in drink driving accidents. Impaired driving includes being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Drivers who cause accidents while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can face severe criminal penalties. However, the driver may also face civil liability for damages caused by a drunk driving accident.
Car insurance may pay some of the damages from the DUI accident, but the driver could be held personally liable for any damages that insurance does not cover.
3. Fatigued Driving
Drowsy driving is more common than some people realize. One survey found that roughly one-third of the participants admitted to driving when they were so tired they had trouble keeping their eyes open. Operating a motor vehicle when you are tired or drowsy can be as dangerous as operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
Several factors increase the risk of drowsy driving accidents. Swing-shift workers and night-shift workers are more susceptible to drowsing driving. Truck drivers and other commercial drivers are also at a higher risk for drowsy driving accidents.
If you have a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, or you take certain medications, you could also be at a higher risk of causing a drowsy driving accident.
Speeding is another dangerous driving behavior that increases the risk of being involved in a car accident. Accidents involving speeding resulted in 9,378 fatalities in 2018.
When a driver exceeds a safe speed limit, the driver may have more difficulty stopping a vehicle to avoid a crash or collision. Higher speeds also increase the chance that a driver can lose control of a car. Speed may contribute to the severity of car accident injuries because higher speeds decrease the effectiveness of occupant protection equipment.
5. Aggressive Driving
Road rage and aggressive driving also increase the risk of a car accident. Aggressive driving includes tailgating, running red lights, weaving in and out of traffic, speeding, blocking lanes, and cutting off other drivers.
Extreme cases of aggressive driving may be described as road rage. Road rage may include using obscene gestures, cursing, ramming another vehicle, forcing a vehicle off the road, or sideswiping another car. In some cases, road rage can lead to physical altercations.
Who is Responsible for Car Accident Injuries?
If another person causes a car crash, that person could be held liable for injuries and financial losses caused by the crash. In many cases, the driver’s insurance provider compensates the victim for medical treatment, loss of income, physical pain, emotional suffering, and other damages.
However, a driver could be held personally liable in a personal injury lawsuit. Depending on the circumstances and state law, a victim could attempt to collect a judgment from the driver’s personal property or through wage garnishment.
Car accident victims can speak with an attorney about their options for filing a car accident claim.