Last year, 35,092 lives were lost in traffic crashes. That figure marked the end of a 5-decade trend of declining fatalities with a 7.2-percent increase in deaths from 2014, according to data from the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The agency’s final report showed traffic deaths rising across nearly every segment of the population.
To help keep yourself and your family safe, it’s critical that you’re aware of the top causes of automobile accidents. Here are six common triggers to watch for:
- Distracted driving: In 2014 alone, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Cell phone use while behind the wheel poses an ever-increasing risk. In one survey, one-third of respondents admitted to texting while driving, and three-quarters saying they’ve seen others do it. Other common forms of distracted driving include eating, changing radio dials, tending to children, talking with passengers, even brushing teeth or changing clothes.
- Impaired driving: Everyone knows that drunk driving is among the deadliest causes of auto accidents. But it’s not the only form of impaired driving. Prescription medications also can be a factor, even when used as directed. Fatigued driving is another culprit.
- Speeding: Putting the pedal to the metal is tempting when schedules are tight and you’re running late. But keep in mind that it’s the second leading cause of car crashes.
- Rain: Rainy weather means slick roads, and that inevitably leads to a busy day for police officers and first responders working traffic accidents. Stormy weather brings the added risk of diminished visibility.
- Tire blowouts: Blown tires can cause a vehicle to swerve unexpectedly and a driver to quickly lose control. A 2003 NHTSA report showed an estimated 414 fatalities, 10,275 non-fatal injuries and 78,392 crashes occurred annually due to flat tires or blowouts before tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) were installed in vehicles. While such scenarios can be caused by defective tires, a far more common factor is improper or inadequate maintenance.
- Construction sites: Road and building construction zone setups can be confusing. Slow down and take extra caution to watch for other drivers who may be confused and for construction workers who may inadvertently step or fall into the path of traffic.
Other common causes include reckless driving, running red lights, tailgating, improper turns, driving at night when visibility is lower, inexperienced or aggressive drivers, and drivers swerving or slamming on brakes to avoid running over potholes or hitting animals.
If you are injured in a collision caused by someone else’s negligence or deliberate act, get medical attention and call 800-251-1111 to speak with a dedicated auto accident attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell.