Over six million car accidents happen in the U.S. annually and statistics say the average person will be involved in three to four accidents in their lifetime. According to the 2016 Kentucky Traffic Collision Facts Report, 834 people died in fatal car accidents; the number of crash victims increasing from 761 victims in 2015 and 672 victims in 2014.
Common accident causes
Recent studies have identified the six main causes of car accidents. While not all accidents are preventable, common causes just might help you avoid a collision.
- Rolling right turn: Failure to fully stop at an intersection accounts for 6 percent of pedestrian fatalities. It only takes about three seconds to stop at an intersection and look both ways before executing a turn and it could save a life.
- Asleep at the wheel: Fatigued drivers account for seven percent of all car crashes. Increasingly busy schedules and lack of sleep are making the problem worse. Episodes of microsleep, brief periods where brains shut down, are particularly dangerous as drivers can run a red light or stop sign during the shutdown period. Most asleep at the wheel accidents happen late at night while tired drivers are alone in the car.
- Loss of control: Most drivers feel confident in their abilities to maneuver their car during a sudden road event, but perception-reaction time studies say otherwise. Drivers losing control of their vehicles accounts for 11 percent of all car crashes. Crash factors include aggressive driving, inclement weather conditions and unexpected road hazards.
- Blocked view: Over 12 percent of all car crashes happen when drivers fail to consider what lies beyond their line of vision. Driving into the blind without first looking for hazards or obstacles is asking for trouble. Motorists should be aware of their surroundings and proceed accordingly.
- Rear end collisions: Rear end collisions account for somewhere between 23 to 30 percent of all car crashes. While most rear end accidents occur at lower speeds, they are not harmless fender benders and can result in serious back and neck injuries. Maintain a safe following distance and watch traffic patterns to gauge upcoming hazards.
- Lane and road departures: Failure to stay in the correct lane or even on the road accounts for 33 percent of all car accidents. Distracted driving is the number one contributor for lane and road departures. Drivers should focus on the task of safe driving instead of attempting to multitask behind the wheel.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Perhaps it’s time to review your driving habits and make appropriate changes. Remember, you cannot control what other drivers will do on the roadways, but safe driving starts better judgment and fewer distractions.