What Are the Chances of Getting Into a Car Accident?
How to Protect Yourself From Getting Into a Car Accident
Car accidents are a common occurrence on our roads and highways. People are hurt or killed in collisions every day, from simple fender benders to catastrophic accidents. While some accidents are unavoidable, others are brought on by things that can be avoided, such as driving while distracted, driving too fast, and driving while intoxicated.
In order to lower the risk and improve your chances of keeping safe on the road, it is crucial to understand the likelihood of being involved in a car accident. In this blog, our car accident lawyers take look at the numerous risk factors that increase the possibility of getting into an accident and provide helpful advice and recommendations to keep you and your loved ones safe when driving. If you do get into a car accident and need legal advice, contact Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys today to schedule a free consultation. There is no fee until we win your case.
How Often do Car Crashes Occur in the U.S.?
According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) most recent Global Status Report, car crashes are a leading cause of death around the world, killing an estimated 1.35 million people annually. The WHO estimates that every day, almost 3,700 people are killed globally in crashes involving cars, buses, motorcycles, bicycles, trucks, or pedestrians. More than half of those killed are pedestrians, motorcyclists, or cyclists.
In the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) projected that for traffic fatalities in 2022, 31,785 people died in traffic crashes in the first nine months of the year. That’s an average of 3,531 people per month. Further, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that road traffic crashes are a leading cause of death in the United States for people ages 1–54.
What do these statistics mean for you?
Statistics help us make informed decisions and draw meaningful conclusions based on patterns and evidence. However, the likelihood of being in a car crash depends on various risk factors, including:
- Your driving habits (Do you drive impaired? Do you practice responsible seat belt use? Are you easily distracted?)
- The time of day (Is it dark out? Are you drowsy?)
- The condition of the roads you’re driving on (What is the weather like?)
- The type of vehicle you drive (Does your car have advanced safety features?)
- Whether you’re in an urban or rural location (Are you speeding on busy urban streets?)
- Your age group (Reports show that young male drivers are most likely to be involved in a car accident)
What Are Some Ways to Avoid Getting Into a Car Accident?
Accidents happen and no one can guarantee complete safety from a car accident, however, there are many precautions you can take to reduce your risk. Here are some ways to avoid car crashes:
Follow Traffic Rules and Signals
Obeying traffic signals and traffic laws helps prevent car accidents and protect road travelers including drivers, passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians. Dangerous behavior that often causes car crashes includes tailgating, failing to yield, and making sudden lane changes.
Take Heed of Speed Limits
Excessive speed can make it difficult to control a vehicle. Driving at a lower speed gives drivers more time to react to unanticipated road conditions such as stopped vehicles, pedestrians on the road, or unexpected obstacles. Particularly, it can help prevent over-steering and losing control of the vehicle.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), “29 percent of all crash fatalities occurred in speed-related crashes in 2020. High speeds make a crash more likely because it takes longer to stop or slow down. They also make collisions more deadly because crash energy increases exponentially as speeds go up.” Car accident fatalities are likelier and injuries are bound to be more severe when sustained by people involved in a higher speed collision as opposed to a lower speed collision.
The IIHS and HLDI also point out that raising speed limits leads to more deaths. People often drive faster than the speed limit, and if the limit is raised they will go faster still. Research shows that when speed limits are raised, speeds go up, as do fatal crashes.
Keep a Safe Following Distance
The recommended safe following distance for cars is at least three seconds. If you’re following the vehicle in front of you too closely, the chances are good that you will plow into them if they unexpectedly stop short.
To determine your three-second distance, as you are driving, choose a point of reference up ahead. Anything stationary works – a lamppost, a sign, a tree, etc. When the car ahead passes your chosen point of reference, you need to time three seconds (using the “one-one-thousand-two-one-thousand-three-one-thousand” count), and then make sure you don’t pass the point of reference before three seconds are up. If you do, you’re too close.
Dealing with tailgaters
When you’re being bullied on the road, the NHTSA suggests the following:
- If you are in the left lane and someone wants to pass, move over and let them by.
- Give speeding drivers plenty of space. Speeding drivers may lose control of their vehicle more easily.
- Adjust your driving accordingly. Speeding is tied to aggressive driving. If a speeding driver is tailgating you or trying to engage you in risky driving, use judgment to safely steer your vehicle out of the way.
- Call the police if you believe a driver is following you or harassing you.
Avoid Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is the act of operating a vehicle while attempting to multitask activities that divert attention from the primary task of driving. This can include anything from using a cell phone, changing the radio station, eating, styling hair, and believe it or not, changing clothes.
According to EndDD.org traffic safety experts classify distractions into three main types: Manual, Visual, and Cognitive.
- Manual distractions are those where you move your hands from the wheel.
- Visual distractions are those where you focus your eyes away from the road.
- A cognitive distraction is when your mind wanders away from the task of driving.
If you get into an accident with a distracted driver, contact a distracted driving accident lawyer right away.
Regularly Maintain Your Vehicle
Regular maintenance ensures the vehicle’s safety features, such as brakes and lights, are functioning properly. Additionally, regular maintenance helps to prevent breakdowns and keeps the vehicle running smoothly.
Stay Alert and Avoid Drowsy Driving
Drowsy driving can impair a person’s ability to react quickly and make good decisions on the road. If you find yourself nodding off, pull over to a safe spot and take a 20-minute power nap. If you’re able to get yourself some coffee, do that as well. Keep in mind that caffeine and a nap are quick and dirty solutions to drowsy driving. You really want to practice healthy habits to prepare you to be alert while driving.
The Sleep Foundation recommends the following ways to promote a well-rested driving experience:
- Get an average of 7 – 9 hours of sleep at night.
- Avoid drinking alcohol or taking medication with the risk of causing drowsiness.
- Try to avoid driving between 12 am and 6 am, the times when most drowsiness-related accidents occur.
- Facilitate a restful sleep. This includes:
- consistent bedtimes
- sleeping in a room that’s dark and has a comfortable temperature
- avoiding portable electronics beginning 30 minutes before bedtime
- avoiding caffeine and alcohol beginning in the late afternoon or evening
- if you’re tossing and turning, leave the bed, don’t use portable electronics, and return to bed when you’re tired
- exercise and maintain a healthy diet
- consult with a doctor if sleeping or the lack of sleep becomes a problem
Slow Down in Adverse Weather Conditions
Poor weather conditions, such as rain, snow, and fog can make it more difficult to see the road and can make it harder to control a vehicle. In this type of weather, it’s important to slow down to reduce hydroplaning, to give you more time to come to a safe stop in slippery conditions, and to give you more time to see and react to road signs, other vehicles, and hazards. Cautious driving in dicey weather can greatly help reduce the risk of car collisions.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Getting into a car and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs exponentially impairs a person’s ability to drive safely. When a driver operates a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, their cognitive and motor skills are impaired, leading to decreased reaction time and compromised judgment. This can result in dangerous driving behaviors that increase the likelihood of a collision, such as speeding, tailgating, and reckless lane changes. Additionally, alcohol and drugs can affect a driver’s vision and ability to stay awake, further increasing the risk of an auto collision.
According to the CDC:
- In 2020, 11,654 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers, accounting for 30% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. This was a 14.3% increase compared to the number of crash deaths involving alcohol-impaired drivers in 2019.1
- 32 people in the United States are killed every day in crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver—this is one death every 45 minutes.
- The annual estimated cost of crash deaths involving alcohol-impaired drivers totaled about $123.3 billion in 2020. These costs include medical costs and cost estimates for lives lost.
- Drug-impaired driving is also an important public health problem; however, less is known about the harmful effects of drug-impaired driving compared to alcohol-impaired driving because of data limitations.
Always Wear Seat Belts
The few seconds it takes to fasten your seat belt is worth it. Simply put, seat belt use reduces the risk of death or serious injuries in a car accident. In the event of a car crash, seat belts help to prevent you from being thrown around inside the car or thrown from the vehicle. Further, the security of a seat belt provides protection for your head, neck, and torso, which are the areas most vulnerable to injury in a crash.
According to the NHTSA, 23,824 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in 2020; of those who died, 51 percent were not wearing seat belts.
Contact Munley Law for a Free Consultation
If you’ve been involved in a car crash, you may be entitled to compensation for injuries you’ve suffered. Call our experienced car accident attorneys at Munley Law for a free consultation to discuss your case.
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