Every year, there are millions of car accidents throughout the country. Car accidents are the leading cause of death in the United States and one of the biggest reasons people visit the emergency room. Car wrecks cost over $75 billion every year, and that does not count non-economic damages such as pain and suffering paid to those who lost loved ones in a traffic wreck. Cars are, in a way, inherently dangerous, with humans prone to error operating rigs weighing thousands of pounds at high speeds. There are many potential ways accidents may occur.
Reasons People Get in Car Accidents
People get into car accidents for many reasons, and in many cases, those accidents are avoidable. Reasons that people get into car accidents are divided into two categories: Those accidents caused by driver error and those not caused by driver error.
Driver Error: Distracted Driving
While many people believe that they can multitask, they cannot, particularly when one activity requires all of your attention, such as driving. Distracted driving comes in the form of doing any activity while driving other than driving, including eating, reading, talking on the phone, texting, doing your hair, doing your makeup, or even taking your eyes off the road to look at someone in the rear seat.
Driver Error: Driving Under the Influence
Most people think of driving under the influence as driving after drinking alcohol. However, driving under the influence also includes driving while under the influence of drugs, including legal prescriptions, under the influence of inhalants, and any other drug, either illicit or legal, including marijuana.
Driver Error: Aggressive Driving, Including Speeding and Reckless Driving
If a driver commits traffic offenses that put others’ lives in danger, including speeding, they are engaging in aggressive driving. Reckless driving includes actions such as constantly switching lanes, tailgating, and other actions that disregard the safety of others and their property.
Driver Error: Ignoring Traffic Signals and Crosswalks
In some cases, a driver doesn’t see a traffic signal, and may run a red light. Other times, drivers ignore traffic signals and crosswalks. Either way, accident victims could recover damages for their injuries. Financial recovery may be greater in cases of intentional disregard for traffic signs.
Driver Error: Fatigue and Tiredness
Fatigue and tiredness are often used interchangeably; however, medically speaking, they are two different things. When you are fatigued, you are not just sleepy—you are worn out because you can’t sleep or not getting enough sleep. Fatigue takes over after days of not sleeping or suffering from a condition such as depression. A truck driver might exhibit fatigue after driving too many days in a row. Tiredness happens when you wear yourself out by driving too many hours without a break but can get a good night’s sleep. Again, accidents often occur because a driver is either drowsy or fatigued.
No Driver Fault and Driver Error: Weather-Related Accidents
In some cases, the weather can lead to accidents, even when a driver does everything correctly. In such cases, it might be that no one is at fault for the accident. For example, a high gust of wind could push another driver into you.
In other cases, the weather might contribute to the accident, but the driver is actually at fault. For example, if the speed limit is 55 miles per hour, but it is snowing, and the driver doesn’t slow down, he or she could slide on a slick road right into your vehicle. Even though the driver was not breaking the speed limit, he should have known that 55 mph was too fast for the weather conditions and should have slowed down. In cases such as these, the driver could be held liable for the accident.
No Driver Fault and Driver Error: Road Conditions
Just as with the weather, road conditions could cause an accident that is not the driver’s fault. However, if the driver should have slowed down or should have been aware of bad road conditions, the driver could be liable for causing an accident.
No Driver Fault: Defective Vehicles and Parts
In most cases, when a defective vehicle or a defective part on a vehicle causes an accident, the driver did not know that the part or vehicle was defective. An accident victim could recover damages from the manufacturer of the defective vehicle or part. This would not pertain to a case where a driver knows the tie rods on his vehicle are worn out and doesn’t repair them. In this scenario, it is not the part’s fault for the accident. The driver did not keep the vehicle in good repair, and the driver could be held liable for the accident.
Safety Devices and Saving Lives
Safety devices in vehicles, such as seatbelts and airbags, can minimize injuries and save lives. Airbags, seatbelts, child safety seats, helmets, and electronic stability control have all contributed to saving lives.
The federal government required all vehicle manufacturers to install airbags in all models from 1999 forward. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that front airbags prevented 2,790 deaths of people aged 13 and older in 2017. In the same year, about 14,955 people lived because of seatbelts, and 325 children under five years of age were saved because of child safety seats. Also, in 2017, 1,872 motorcyclists were saved because they were wearing helmets.
Because you can’t control what others around you do, and you can’t always avoid an accident, using safety devices could reduce injuries or save your life. Human error, including distracted driving, is one of the top reasons for car accidents. However, other factors, such as a third vehicle or the weather, could also cause accidents that you might not avoid.
While you can’t control the causes of all car accidents, using safety devices can minimize and save you from injury. And should someone negligently crash into you and leave you injured, a car accident lawyer can help you recover compensation.
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