Driver and passengers involved in car accident often end up with minor or major injuries and in occasional cases sudden death. Car accident is one of the second most common causes of ER visits. Legislators, insurance provider and individuals are periodically evaluating the data related to automobile accidents. New laws and bills are passed every now and then to protect the driver, passenger and pedestrian. Mistakes or errors can happen even with experienced drivers resulting in serious accident involving one or several cars. Though other drivers may not be at any fault. Serious life threatening injuries following accident are consequences of speeding, distraction, tailgating, driving under the influence of alcohol and inadequate driving experiences. Eighty percent of all fatal accidents are caused by human error.
Car Accident Statistics
Annually in USA 6 million car accidents are recorded and more than 3 million occupants of automobile are injured. Report also suggest two million injured driver sustain permanent injuries. Since 2000, automobile accident has caused over 40,000 deaths per year. Rate of fatality has reduced over the last 10 years. Over 1/3rd of these fatalities involves drunk driver, 1/3rd involves reckless driving and over 1/4th of accident involves speeding. In USA number of cars has increased exponentially over last 50 years in USA. Majority of the injured individuals in car accident are drivers than compared to passenger or pedestrian. Statistics suggest every 12 minutes, one person dies in automobile accident and every 14 seconds a driver or a passenger is injured in car accident. Every year United States Department of Transportation's (USDOT's) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would release car accident statistics.1
How To Avoid Car Accidents?
Careful driving and avoiding following errors and mistakes can prevent car accident.
- Avoid Use of Mobile Phone While Driving Including Sending Text Message.
- Avoid Speeding, Observe and Maintain Speed Limits of the Lane
- Avoid Drunk Driving.
- Avoid Tailgating.
- Avoid Distraction - Drinking Soft Drink, Eating and Playing With Radio.
- Avoid Lane Violation And Driving On Wrong Side.
- Avoid Driving Through Red Light
- Avoid Inappropriate Use Of Horn.
- Avoid Long Distance Driving If You Are Senior Citizen.
- Avoid Seat Belt Violation.
Car Accident Causes
Car Accident Caused By Cell Phone Use
Modern mobile phones are used for communication and texting. Use of cellular phone and texting messages diverts attention and complicates appreciation of surroundings while car is in motion, often resulting in car accident. National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that at least 1.6 Million crashes each year involve drivers using cell phones and texting. NSC1 updated its annual attributable risk estimate in 2011, using new data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Study suggests auto accident occurs 12 times more often while talking than texting. Study also suggests 11% of all driver use cell phone while driving. AAA automobile insurance company had published a Public Opinion Research in 2009 and outcome of the study suggests over 50% public support for total ban of cell phone while driving.
Car Accident Caused By Speeding
Speeding often causes loss of control of steering the car and results in car accident. Most of the death associated with car accident is often associated with speeding. Assigned speed limits for roads or street are calculated according to the twist and turns of the road as well as traffic conditions. Road conditions are either favorable or unfavorable for speeding depending on width of the road, number of cars during peak hours and twist or turns of the lane. Speed of the car must be adjusted to hazardous driving conditions caused by rain, snowfall or fog. Pedestrian death is often associated with car accidents caused by speeding. Pedestrian fatality study at different speed of the car suggest following fatality rates:
- Speed of 60km/h (37.3 miles/hour) - 9 out of 10 pedestrians are killed.
- Speed of 50km/h (31 miles/hour) - 5 out of 10 pedestrians are killed.
- Speed of 30km/h (18.7 miles/hour) - 1 out of 10 pedestrians is killed.
Speeding Is Classified As
- Inappropriate Speeding - Inappropriate speeding is driving incorrectly above or below speed limit on curve road or heavy traffic highway unsuitable for that speed.
- Over Speeding - Speeding above the speed limits over highway or freeway even though driver feels comfortable with the driving conditions.
- Controlled Speed - Driver follows the speeding instructions.
Car Accident Caused By Drunk Driving
Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) affects judgment of speed, distance and direction. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above threshold level reduces reflexes within nervous system. BAC of 0.05 or lower is considered as optimum limit to drive. Blood alcohol level above 0.05 is considered as toxic limit. National Transportation Safety Board has recommended states to lower their legal limits to 0.05 in USA. Level of BAC depends on quantity of alcohol consumed. Youth and occasional drinker may show signs of abnormal reflexes with one drink and less significant blood alcohol level. Alcoholics are often repeat offenders involved in repeat drunk driving and accident. Blood alcohol concentration is measured by breath test and blood test. Risk of motor vehicle accident increases with increased level of blood alcohol level. The relationship between BAC and motor vehicle accident is as follows:
- BAC level of 0.05 (legal limit) - The risk of a motor vehicle accident doubles.
- BAC level 0.10 (twice the level of 0.05 legal limit) - The risk increases six times.
- BAC level of 0.15 (three times legal limit of 0.05) - The risk increases 25 times.
Youth involved in drinking and using illicit drugs are at greater risk of instigating fatal accident. Driving under influence of alcohol is a problem with youth and alcoholics. Younger inexperience drivers are at greater risk for an accident than older drivers. Motor vehicle accident study of youth driver suggests, youth between age 15 and 22 were involved in 22% of fatal car accident and 56% were not wearing seat belt while driving. The automobile accident report published by Center for Disease Control and Prevention suggested that 10,228 people were killed in 2010 in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.2 In 2010, over 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.3
Car Accident Caused By Tailgating
Tailgating is a conduct of driving too close to the vehicle moving in front at unknown speed. The moving vehicle in front of the tailgating car if for some reason applies break or reduces speed then there is not much room often left to prevent or avoid collision. Approximately one third of rear-end collisions involves tailgating.4 Tailgating is often deliberate and dangerous. Deliberate tailgating mostly involves youth or impatient driver. Impatient driver sometime tailgates to overtake a vehicle or pass by the vehicle in a single lane street. Driver tailgating is at times unable to see an on coming traffic because of close distance from the car in front and curvature of the street. Most of the time oncoming traffic is hidden from tailgating driver's vision. An attempt to overtime may end up in fatal head-on collision. In few cases driver tailgating may scare the inexperienced driver of the front car by staying too close or frequently flashing the headlights. Fear and lack of confidence of the driver of the front car may result in loss of control of the steering wheel and accident. Such accident often involves the tailgating car. Tailgating may be secondary to road rage. Tailgating is dangerous to both the drivers, tailgating driver and driver of the front car.
Car Accident Caused By Driving Distraction
Driving distraction causes lack of concentration and attention for brief period. Distraction often occurs while playing with radio to search for a song or favorite station. Other causes of distraction while driving are eating or drinking while driving, talking to fellow passenger and talking on phone. Sometimes, driver is distracted by a spectacular scene and tries to watch the landscape or a panoramic view while driving, leading to accident.
Car Accident Caused By Failure To Maintain Lane Discipline
Driver may be driving on freeway, highway, dual carriage way or single lane street. Driver should keep his vehicle within the lane he had chosen to drive. Driver should be aware of the lane assigned for getting in and out of the highway or freeway. Avoid driving on wrong side. Driver should obey the rules of right of way guidance.
Car Accident Caused By Red Light Running
Red Light Running is one of the leading causes of car accidents in USA. Drivers who tend to be in a hurry are more likely to run a red light and the results can be catastrophic if met with an accident.
- Avoid driving through red light.
- Follow traffic signal guidance.
Use of Horn to Prevent Car Accident
Horn is a very useful apparatus in emergency. Horns are sounded to drive attention of fellow driver to prevent accident. Horn is useful for driver while taking a turn in a narrow street to warn a driver B of vehicle coming across the street. Horn is also useful to warn the driver B taking reversed in parking lot.
Car Accident Caused By Senior Citizens Driving
Senior citizens should take extra care while driving to prevent accident. Senior citizen may suffer with vision problems and may able to see limited distance. Older population may suffer with weakness in upper and lower extremities and sometimes might find it difficult to apply sudden break. Reflexes are often slow and reaction time is delayed.
Car Accident Injuries Caused By Not Wearing Seat Belts
Outcome of almost all study suggest wearing seat belt can prevent life threatening injuries. Study of fatal accident suggest over 50% of individual who died were not wearing seat belt. In USA it is mandatory for driver and front seat passenger to wear a seat belt, regrettably majority of the driver and passenger choose not to wear seat belt.
Driving Tips To Avoid Car Accident
- Watch Your Speedometer.
- Drive Light On Low Beam On Highway, Freeways, Dual Carriage Way And Single Lane.
- Use Fog Lights When Necessary.
- Reduce Speed If It Is Raining, Snowing, Or If Visibility Is Limited By Fog.
- Do Not Use Horn Frequently If Not Necessary.
- Do Not Tailgate.
- Use Wipers And Defrosters As Necessary For Maximum Visibility.
- Do Not Stop On A Motorway Or Heavily Traveled Road.
Preventing Car Accident: 12 Things To Avoid While Driving
- Avoid Speeding.
- Avoid Texting While Driving.
- Avoid Talking On Mobile Phone While Driving.
- Avoid Driving If Consumed Alcohol Or Feel Light Headed.
- Avoid Tailgating.
- Avoid Distraction.
- Avoid Sipping Soft Drinks.
- Avoid Alcohol.
- Avoid Eating Food.
- Avoid Talking To Fellow Passenger Continuously.
- Avoid Playing With Radio.
- Avoid Observing Surrounding Scene.
Also Read About:
- Car Accident: Non Life Threatening Injuries, Symptoms, Signs
- Car Accident: 6 Major Life Threatening Injuries, Symptoms, Signs
1. Link to National safety council media coverage-
2. Injury Prevention & Control: Motor Vehicle Safety
3. Alcohol-Impaired Driving Among Adults –United States, 2010Bergen G. Shults RA. Rudd RA. (October 2011). Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 60:39:1351.
4. Safety and Consumer Protection