Thursday 23 December 2010

Common Causes Of Car Accidents: 5 Ways To Minimize The Risks

Car accidents have become a common characteristic of American life, and indeed, those of us who live in traffic congested cities have grown accustomed to the site of damaged vehicles stopping up traffic. The majority of these instances are the routine fender-bender, but as most of us realize, vehicular accidents are also often deadly. For many, one of our greatest fears is never seeing our loved ones again when they pick up the car keys and leave the house.

But by understanding what contributes to car accidents, both harmless and deadly, we can minimize the chances that we will ever be involved in one. There's always the chance of becoming a victim to another hapless driver, but awareness and adjusting your driving can significantly change the odds…in your favor.

Here are some common causes of car accidents to be aware of.

1. Speeding

Many car accidents are caused by speeding. While those new to driving might find going slow to be a drag and take some of the "fun" out of it, we must remember that a vehicle is a tool—and a dangerous one at that. When we are driving faster, we are given less time to react when something goes wrong, like another driver entering our lane, an animal running into the road, or a sharp curve creeping up on us. When we are driving too fast, it also reduces our car's performance in several ways. For instance, we may lose control going around bends, and the distance we need to stop is much larger than when we are driving at slower speeds.

2. Distractions

Another common cause, especially with mobile technologies, is distraction. Most of us have heard of a small handful of people who have been killed while driving because they were talking on a cell phone or texting and distracted from noticing a danger in time to prevent an accident. Other distractions include trying to read something, reaching to grab something, paying attention to something off the roadway, talking to a passenger, or simply daydreaming.

When you're at the wheel, never forget the responsibility that is in your hands. Put all your energy and focus into the task at hand, and stay alert for any possible sudden changes in the environment that may pose a threat.

3. Careless Driving

Careless driving also causes a lot of accidents and, unfortunately, deaths. Especially younger drivers are known for showboating or just driving haphazardly—and in most cases, the simple reason is they don't take the dangers of driving seriously enough. Even older, more mature drivers "cut corners" in the sake of time or convenience by running stop signs, following too closely, or any other number of aggressive driving mistakes.

Nothing can be more sobering than a brief lapse in judgment ruining lives.

4. Drunk Driving

The most preventable cause of automobile accidents is drunk driving—a cause of death that crosses nearly every parent's mind when they first hand their teenager the car keys. We all know it is a problem and a very dangerous one, yet so many still do it.

Any time you've had a drink, you should refrain from driving—it is simple as that. Use taxis, designated drivers, and self-control. Anything else is a show of complete neglect for your own life and the lives of others.

5. Weather

Of course, weather is also a major factor in automobile accidents and in any of the cases above, it can make an accident much more likely to happen. Driving speeds and habit should always be adjusted in regards to the current road environment, so keep an eye on the weather and drive accordingly—it's the law, but it's also your life and the lives of others.

The simple truth is that most car accidents involve a variety of different contributing factors, and even if you do everything perfectly, someone else's mistake can quickly alter your life. For that reason, the best policy is and always has been defensive driving. Make it a point to always be aware of not only what you are doing but what those around you are doing, and always be prepared to give to a more aggressive driver.

There is life in your hands.

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