Millions of collisions and car accidents occur every year. While there are a variety of causes for crashes, some are more common than others. We’ve put together a list of the most common causes of collisions, so read on below to learn more about why car accidents happen (and what you can do to try to avoid them).
The Most Common Causes of Collision
We all know that driving under the influence is incredibly dangerous, but did you know that about one-third of driver fatalities in the US occur with a BAC of .08 or higher? Crashes that involve alcohol-impaired drivers kill almost 30 people across America every day.
Blood alcohol concentration: the effects
- BAC of 0.02: Some loss of judgment; altered mood, slight body warmth
- BAC of 0.05: Impaired judgment; exaggerated behavior, lowered alertness
- BAC of 0.08: Judgment, self-control, reasoning, and memory are impaired; poor muscle coordination
- BAC of 0.10: Slurred speech, slowed thinking, extremely slowed reaction time, minimal control
- BAC of 0.15: Minimal muscle control, the potential for vomiting, extreme balance loss
Usually, a person with an elevated BAC level cannot maintain their lane position or use their brakes correctly or quickly enough to avoid car accidents.
Driving under the influence of marijuana
Alcohol isn’t the only substance that impairs your ability to drive. Marijuana also changes a person’s reaction time and means of judgment. More and more people are beginning to use marijuana, and driving under the influence of cannabis has become increasingly common.
Studies demonstrate that more than one in ten nighttime and weekend drivers have marijuana in their systems.
- A driver who uses marijuana is 25 percent more likely to be in an accident than a driver with no evidence of marijuana use
The CDC defines drowsy driving as “the dangerous combination of driving and sleepiness or fatigue.” Drowsy driving usually happens because a person has not slept enough. It can also happen because of medications, untreated sleep disorders, and drinking.
Falling asleep at the wheel clearly presents a huge danger, but even driving while a little drowsy is risky. Drowsiness impacts someone’s ability to drive safely because it:
- Slows reaction time
- Makes drivers less attentive
- Inhibits a driver’s ability to make decisions
If you ever experience the signs of drowsy driving while you’re behind the wheel, change drivers or pull over somewhere safe to take a 20-minute nap.
Some people are more likely to drive drowsy. People who don’t get enough sleep are at risk of driving drowsy. This includes shift workers and commercial drivers. Drivers who use medications that make them tired and those with untreated sleep disorders are also more likely to drive while drowsy.
Driving drowsy is similar to driving drunk. Certain studies have shown that driving while tired or drowsy impairs your ability to drive similar to driving under the influence. Lack of sleep can impact:
- Reaction time
Drowsy driving is impaired driving. Drowsiness qualifies as a cognitive impairment.
Every day, eight Americans die in collisions reported to involve a distracted driver. Distracted driving puts everybody at risk—even people who aren’t in cars. One in five people killed in accidents involving distracted drivers is not in a vehicle.
Any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the act of driving constitutes a distraction. When someone drives distracted, they increase the chance of a car accident. According to the CDC, there are three primary types of driver distractions: manual, cognitive, and visual.
- Manual distractions: Require drivers to remove one or both of their hands from the steering wheel. Examples include grabbing a phone, eating, or reaching back to help children.
- Cognitive distractions: Require drivers to take their mental focus away from driving. Examples include having a discussion or daydreaming.
- Visual distractions: Require drivers to take their eyes off the road. These can be caused by backseat passengers or in-vehicle entertainment.
The most dangerous types of distractions are the ones that combine all three types. Texting is a good example because texting is a manual, cognitive, and visual distraction.
Speeding has been linked to one in three motor vehicle fatalities for more than twenty years.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that speeding:
- Increases the likelihood of loss of vehicle control
- Reduces the effectiveness of both occupant protection (seatbelts and airbags) and road protection equipment (rumble strips and warning signs)
- Increases stopping distance after perceived danger
- Intensifies the degree of crash severity
Unfortunately, people speed for lots of reasons. Some people speed to be intentionally reckless or aggressive. Other people speed because they are running late or feel pressure to be somewhere. No matter why somebody speeds, it can be dangerous or deadly to those around them.
According to AAA, almost 80 percent of drivers report expressing significant anger, aggression, or road rage while driving at least one time in the previous 30 days. Road rage and aggressive driving are defined as any unsafe driving behavior that is performed deliberately and with disregard for safety or with ill intention.
Aggressive driving can look different depending on the situation. Some examples include:
- Speeding (especially in heavy traffic)
- Running stop signs or red lights
- Swerving, cutting in front of other drivers (someone may even slow down after doing so)
- Blocking cars that are attempting to change lanes or pass
Think of road rage as aggressive driving but taken up a notch. Extreme instances of aggressive driving may escalate into road rage.
Some examples of actions that qualify as road rage include:
- Throwing objects
- Yelling, cursing, using obscene gestures
- Forcing other drivers off the road
Most of us need to drive at night at some point. With that said, night driving can be dangerous—even if you’re totally comfortable on the road. The National Safety Council has even stated that nighttime is the most dangerous time to drive.
- Rush hour congests roads and makes it difficult to drive; many drivers may drive recklessly or aggressively to try to beat traffic
- Our vision is compromised at night—it’s harder to see potential risks on the road and to navigate when it’s dark outside
- Some people also drive recklessly after dark for other reasons; racing (and speeding in general) is very common after the sun goes down
- The glare from oncoming headlights may make it impossible to see
Visibility at night. Did you know that even high-beam headlights don't increase visibility beyond 500 feet? That figure drops to 250 feet for normal headlights. If someone is driving at night, they don’t always have time to react to things on the road. This is especially true if the person exceeds the speed limit or drives too fast for road or weather conditions.
Approximately 21 percent of the nearly 6 million vehicle crashes that occur every year are weather-related. Most of these accidents occur on wet pavement and during rainfall.
Some weather makes it difficult for winter road maintenance, traffic management, emergency management, and law enforcement agencies to do their jobs. This presents an increased risk to drivers who get into accidents.
What Damages Can I Recover After a Collision?
When someone is hurt in an accident, they may have the right to seek compensation for the damages they experience. Damages can include medical bills, property damage, mental anguish, lost wages, etc.
Every collision case is unique. That means that the damages and compensation amounts involved in each case are unique, too. Without knowing all the details surrounding your collision, it's difficult to tell you exactly which damages you can recover or how much your claim is worth, but here’s a summary of some of the most commonly sought damages after car accidents.
If you’ve incurred medical bills because of your accident, those bills may be compensable. You can even work with your attorney to fight for compensation for projected future medical bills associated with the collision too. Many crash victims need to pay medical bills for quite some time after an accident, so it's important to request compensation for future expenses from the start.
Compensation for medical expenses includes a wide range of costs. Everything from surgeries and prescriptions to custom-made medical equipment may be eligible for compensation.
Pain and suffering
Many car accidents cause survivors immense pain and suffering. If your injuries lead to physical pain, you deserve compensation for your experiences. No amount of money can account for the physical toll of an accident, but compensation is there to help you work through it.
Keep in mind that injuries don’t need to be severe to cause pain and suffering. You deserve to be compensated for your experiences regardless of the degree of your injuries.
Collisions can have a deep mental and emotional impact on survivors, too. You shouldn't have to face anxiety, grief, or hopelessness because of someone else’s negligence or recklessness. You can work with a lawyer to pursue compensation for mental anguish after a crash.
When you get into a collision, you may miss time from work as a result. Many people need to take days, weeks, or even months off work due to their injuries after a crash. Even if you “only” missed a day or two on the job, it can still have serious financial consequences.
This is why collision survivors can pursue compensation for lost wages. If you lost income because of your accident, you should ask your attorney about damages for lost wages.
Diminished earning capacity
Compensation for lost wages can help when you miss time from work. What happens if you have to leave your job because of your injuries, though? What if your ability to earn money is permanently diminished by your collision?
You might be able to request compensation for diminished earning capacity as well. If a car accident changes your ability to earn money, you can pursue damages to account for your diminished earning capacity.
Finding a Reliable Personal Injury Lawyer After Your Collision
No matter what caused your collision, you will benefit from working with a car accident attorney who can help you fight for justice and compensation after an accident. Here are the general steps to follow as you begin the process of finding an attorney.
Finding Your Attorney
A car collision lawyer helps clients recover compensation by filing insurance claims and civil lawsuits quickly and efficiently. Victims will have better luck demanding compensation when they have a lawyer by their side.
Once it’s time for you to begin searching for a personal injury attorney, there are some things you should keep in mind.
- You can and should meet with multiple lawyers. This way, you can find the one that’s the right fit for your individual needs.
- Look for a lawyer with trial experience. Although most cases settle out of court, you should work with a lawyer who can help you bring a lawsuit if a settlement is not possible.
Working With Your Attorney
Your attorney will work to investigate the accident and determine what happened. They will build a case centered around securing you fair compensation. Your lawyer will also negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf for the damages you wish to pursue.
During this time, you may be asked to assist in the process by:
- Answering questions
- Completing forms
- Sharing information and evidence
Filing a lawsuit
This only applies if your case fails to settle outside of court. If your case cannot settle out of court, your lawyer may file a car accident lawsuit on your behalf. This allows you and the liable party to present evidence, give statements, and tell your side of the story. As part of the litigation process, you may need to participate in mediation or other court-ordered settlement procedures.
Someone I Love Was Killed in a Car Accident
If you lost a loved one in a car accident, you may be able to pursue justice on their behalf. You can work with a wrongful death lawyer (many car accident attorneys have experience with wrongful death cases) to build a case. A qualified wrongful death attorney may help you recover end-of-life and other costs after your loved one’s passing.
If you or a loved one was injured in a car collision, call (715) 835-5959 or contact the dedicated personal injury lawyers at Nicolet Law Accident and Injury Lawyers for a free case consultation today.