The 12 Most Common Reasons Car Accidents Occur

February 13th, 2015 by

Car accidents happen fast, and they can lead to serious injury, vehicle damage, significant auto repair estimates, and sometimes even legal ramifications.

To avoid being in that situation, read up on the most common causes of accidents so you can help prevent them by driving responsibly and being on the lookout for others who are driving unsafely.

Ignoring the Speed Limit

Speeding is one of the top causes of car accidents. When you’re going faster than you should be, you’re far less likely to be able to control your vehicle than when you’re following the speed limit.

We all have those times when we’re late to work or when we’re just not paying attention and the speedometer creeps up. But ignoring the speed limit puts you at much greater risk of having a collision.

Take a deep breath, slow down, and remember that being a couple minutes late is better than putting yourself and others in danger.

Driving While Distracted

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It’s easy to get distracted while driving, but it’s those split seconds when you’re looking away that often result in collisions. Taking your eyes off the road, even briefly, minimizes your reaction time should something unexpected occur.

And it doesn’t always take a surprise to trigger a problem. If you lean over to do something or look down for too long, you can drift out of your lane in either direction without knowing, and then find it’s too late to correct your path.

One of the most common distractions these days is the smartphone. Holding a phone up to your ear or looking down to text or post on Facebook is one of the quickest ways to get into an accident.

Other technological gadgets can cause just as much distraction too. Whether you’re driving along and trying to navigate or fiddling with your music settings, all it takes is a second.

It’s also smart to avoid other habits like eating, doing your makeup, or combing your hair in the car because they all take away from your focus.

By keeping your hands on the wheel and watching the road instead of driving with your knees and glancing away, you greatly reduce the risk of hurting yourself or someone else.

Driving Recklessly

Driving without following the rules of the road is one of the fastest ways to end up in a bad situation. There are many people out there who are careless behind the wheel or who pride themselves on driving more aggressively than others.

Always keep your cool and play by the rules when you’re on the road. And pay attention to the drivers around you so you can maintain a safe distance if their driving is out of control.

Driving Under the Influence

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Consuming drugs or alcohol and then driving is one of the most frequent ways that people get into life threatening situations in cars.

When you are under the influence, your judgment and reaction time are impaired, making it much less likely that you’ll be able to drive safely and handle your vehicle properly.

Not only can you choose not to drive after having a few cocktails, but you can also help others may good decisions too.

Many people think that driving “buzzed” is okay because they’ve gotten away with it before. But it’s likely that they’ve still had too much to be behind the wheel, and it only takes one time for a life-changing event to occur.

Ignoring Signs or Signals

No matter what the cause, not paying attention to road signs or signals can have disastrous results. Speeding up for a yellow light and ending up running a red puts your life and the lives of others in jeopardy.

Many high speed side impacts occur due to people running lights, and the outcomes can be catastrophic. The same goes for cruising through a stop sign or heading down a one-way street in the wrong direction.

It’s vital to follow the rules and adhere to normal traffic flow to prevent things from getting ugly.

Night Driving

At night, the risk of an accident is drastically increased. The number one factor is visibility. When you can’t clearly see what’s ahead, it’s easy to be caught off guard.

Another big factor is fatigue. If you drive home late at night when you’re drowsy, you run the risk of drifting off, even momentarily, and that’s plenty of time for things to go wrong.

Stay put if you’re feeling tired, and drive after you’ve had some sleep. This can be especially difficult for people who work late night shifts and just want to get home to bed.

Even if you’re almost there, it’s best to pull over and get some shut eye if you’re having trouble keeping your eyes open.

Improper Lane Changes

We’ve all seen it on the highway: someone just weaves in and out between cars, cutting it way too close for comfort. Shifting lanes impulsively and sliding in between other vehicles is just asking for it.

Failing to thoroughly look in each mirror and check the surrounding lanes can have nasty results. If it’s hard to tell whether there is oncoming traffic, your best bet is to stay put.

Luckily, new technologies like Blind Spot Monitoring are helping to make lane changes simpler and safer. But it’s always important to double check before moving over.

Improper Turns

So your navigation went blank for a minute and now it’s telling you to take a turn immediately. Your options are to cut across two lanes of traffic to make it in time or to proceed and get yourself turned around after the intersection.

All too often, people make quick decisions, turning from the wrong lane or failing to flip on a blinker to alert other drivers. Even if you’re in a hurry, getting into the correct lane and signaling properly is the safe thing to do.

Weather Conditions

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Weather conditions play an enormous role in driving safety. Speeding along too quickly on a wet road can quickly send you hydroplaning.

When it’s both wet and warm outside, fog can really hinder visibility so it’s challenging to make out what’s ahead.

And of course snow and ice cause some of the trickiest road conditions drivers face. When it’s slippery outside, it’s easy for a car, especially one without good tires, to slip and slide all over.

Whenever the weather affects the road conditions or impedes your ability to drive as you normally would, remember to use extra caution, and take it as slow as you need to.

If at all possible, stay off the road when it’s advised and reschedule plans if you need to. Risking your safety just isn’t worth it.

Tailgating and Road Rage

Oftentimes emotions can be the culprit when it comes to the cause of an accident. For people whose commute involves sitting in hours of traffic or driving for significant parts of the day, frustration an anger can take over.

If you’re rushing to get somewhere and the person in front of you is going below the speed limit or holding up traffic, it can be extremely tempting to ride right up on their rear fender and honk or pass them on the fly while shouting out expletives.

But those moments, which are clouded by emotion, frequently turn from a feeling of anger to one of regret.

Even if your commute has got you down or the person in front of you seems to be driving in another dimension, try to keep your emotions in check. Pass when it’s safe to do so and be on your merry way.

Road Conditions

Especially in parts of the country where there are extreme seasonal changes, road conditions can deteriorate to the point of being unsafe.

Not only do large potholes and bumps damage your vehicle, but they can make you lose control it too.

If you’re driving on a road that’s definitely seen better days, take it easy. Hitting a severely damaged patch could blow one of your tires, or it could send you flying in a direction you weren’t expecting.

Vehicle Problems

While cars these days last a whole lot longer than cars of the past, they still require regular maintenance to remain in working order.

Tire problems, unrepaired issues, defects, and unaddressed recalls can lead to emergency situations when driving at regular speeds.

Be sure to make your vehicle’s upkeep a priority, and take your car to the shop routinely. Monitor simple things like fluid levels, tire pressure, and tire condition at home to avoid problems while driving.

And also check online to make sure there are no recalls or notices that you should be aware of. Caring for your vehicle is one of the best preventative measures you can take to guard against accidents.