Every car owner is acutely aware of the dangers of car and traffic accidents. Getting involved in one is less than ideal and often dangerous. Drivers and pedestrians could suffer injuries, property damage, and even death.
In 2021 alone, the United States saw 39,508 fatal motor vehicle crashes, resulting in 42,939 deaths. Given the deadly nature of car crashes, it’s essential for drivers to actively avoid conditions and activities that may lead to accidents.
Keep reading to learn more about car accidents and how to avoid or handle them.
What causes car accidents?
It’s rare to find people who intentionally want to get into a vehicle accident. Not only can they be expensive to recover from, but they can also cause significant bodily harm.
Here are the most common causes of car accidents in the United States. Some of the ones below might be beyond your control, but understanding these causes can help you be more careful and increase your chances of avoiding them.
Distracted driving happens when a driver diverts their attention from the road. It is one of the most common and dangerous causes of car accidents. In 2021, 3,522 people died from traffic accidents involving distracted driving.
Smartphones are often the most cited culprit behind distracted driving. Checking one’s texts or social media while driving could cause the driver to lose focus on the road. As a result, drivers might miss possible hazards that lead to accidents.
Smartphones aside, many other activities could cause distracted driving. Turning to talk to other passengers, eating, or reaching for something on the back seat are other examples. Even a few seconds of not looking at the road could be incredibly dangerous.
Driving under the influence
Impaired driving or driving under the influence is one of the leading causes of car and traffic accidents. Getting behind the wheel while drunk or high on other substances could be very dangerous.
An average of 37 people die every day from drunk driving crashes in the United States. In 2021, 13,384 individuals died from alcohol-impaired driving. These alarming figures reflected a 14 percent increase from 2020 statistics.
Alcohol and other substances could deeply impair a driver’s faculties, affecting their judgment, muscle coordination, and reaction times. Even small amounts of alcohol could have adverse effects. For this reason, one should always avoid driving while drunk or high. Not only will you endanger yourself, but you could injure or even kill pedestrians.
Many road accidents result from driver error. However, outside factors such as adverse weather can also increase the likelihood of these incidents.
Bad weather conditions can be a significant contributing factor to road accidents. For example, a snowy or rainy night could cause roads to become more slippery. Even careful drivers could fall victim to these conditions, causing them to veer off course.
It’s best to avoid driving in severe weather conditions. But if you have to, be extra careful and observe safe speeds.
Improperly maintained roads could cause accidents. Unmarked potholes, unfinished construction repairs, and other road damage could endanger drivers and pedestrians.
If you get into this type of crash, you could get compensation from the construction company or responsible entity in charge of road maintenance.
Some accidents can result from errors in the auto manufacturing process. Drivers could be as careful as possible, but defective auto components could increase the likelihood of a crash.
In these cases, the auto manufacturer could become liable for the accident, and the victims may receive compensation.
What To Do After a Car Accident
No one wants to be involved in a car accident. However, these events often occur when you least expect them, no matter how careful you are.
If you ever find yourself in a traffic accident, here are steps you can take:
1. Check for injuries
Immediately after the crash, stop the vehicle and check on the people inside. See if you or any of your passengers have injuries.
Call 911 right away if anyone is injured, even if you think it’s not severe. Some people may still experience internal wounds that might not be apparent immediately.
2. Move to a safe area
If your vehicle still works, moving it from the main road into a less busy area is best. Leaving your car in the middle of the road might cause traffic jams and endanger other motorists.
However, if you believe there is a risk of explosion or fire, call emergency services and inform others to move away from the area.
3. Call law enforcement
Accidents resulting in injuries or severe property damage require you to file a police report. Call law enforcement immediately if you have been in a serious crash.
Cops will show up at the scene and gather evidence and information to use in the report. Cooperate with them and answer their questions. You will likely need the report if you file an insurance claim.
4. Exchange information
No matter the accident’s severity, it’s advisable to talk to the other driver involved. This conversation doesn’t need to be antagonistic, so staying calm is best.
Exchange the following information:
- Driver’s name and contact number
- Make and model of the vehicle/s
- Insurance information
5. Document the scene
Once everyone is safe and emergencies have been addressed, document the accident scene. Collect your own evidence. The information you obtain will be helpful, especially if you plan to file an insurance claim or pursue legal action.
Use your phone to take photos and videos of the scene. Pay particular attention to the vehicles’ position and any visible property damage. Also, take note of any injuries you or other passengers have incurred.
You can also talk to witnesses and document their statements. Ask for their names and contact information if they wish to give it.
6. Decide whether to file an insurance claim
Regardless of who is at fault, call your insurance company to inform them of the incident. You may or may not file a claim if the accident was your fault. However, a claim could help pay for any damage you or your vehicle may have incurred.
If another party was at fault, you could file a claim with their insurance company. You can also ask your insurance company to do it for you.
7. Talk to a lawyer
Not all accidents should lead to lawsuits. However, talking to a lawyer can help you gain valuable perspective, especially if you suffered severe injuries and property damage.
A car accident lawyer can offer advice on available legal options and help you receive the compensation you need and deserve.
Car accidents can cause significant harm to one’s health, as well as property damage. Understanding their causes can help you become a more conscious and considerate driver.
While avoiding accidents altogether is ideal, it’s also essential to educate yourself and prepare for the possibility of an accident. Knowing what to do can help you protect yourself and the people around you.