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Blog category: Driving

Car Fatalities are on the Rise: How to Avoid the Top 10 Common Accidents

7 min read

While the dark days of COVID-19 are (mostly) in the rearview mirror, the extraordinary increase in car accidents and resulting fatalities over the same period has only plateaued. The latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates only negligible improvements have occurred recently.

Therefore, much more must be done to make the roadways safe for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. Let’s explore how to avoid car accidents in conjunction with the most common causes of vehicle collisions.

We can all take action to reduce car accidents and road fatalities. While many of the following suggestions are familiar to most of us, they’re essential to keeping everyone safe:

  • Ensure you and your passengers ALWAYS wear a seatbelt
  • Avoid driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs at all times
  • Pull over if you get tired behind the wheel
  • Share the road with motorcycles and cyclists
  • Avoid distracted driving

The choices we each make on the road impact our own safety and that of others. Learning how to avoid car accidents and committing to car accident prevention benefits us all.

The pandemic has changed many people's driving habits for the worse, and the trend is only leveling off, but together we can take action to make the road safer for everyone. Below are some common causes of auto accidents, with tips on how to stay safe.

Ten Common Accident Reasons

1. Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is the main reason for car accidents. This behavior tops our list because it occurs at an alarming rate, even more so than driving under the influence or speeding. Distracted driving encompasses anything that takes your attention away from the task at hand — which is to drive attentively. Texting, tuning the radio dial, and turning around to deal with kids or pets are just a few things that can lead to a collision.

But you never take your eyes off the road for more than five seconds at a time, right? According to the NHTSA, at 55 mph, you travel the entire length of a football field in the five seconds you look away. A recent study found that nearly 80 percent of collisions involved a driver distracted within three seconds of the accident. So, turn off the cell phone and put it away for the drive.

2. Speeding

Giving yourself sufficient time to respond to traffic and road signs is essential to learning how to avoid car accidents. And, posted speed limits are not merely a suggestion — but many drivers treat them as such. Speed limits inform you of the safest speed for certain road conditions, for instance, sharp turns, uneven road surfaces, or high volumes of traffic. When you drive too fast, you don’t have as much time to react safely, and the higher velocity increases the severity of a crash.

Breaking a speeding habit can be challenging, but learning the cost of fines and ways to avoid needing to speed in the first place can make you a safer driver. If your need for speed is intense, there are racetracks where you can drive your own car. Others allow you to drive an exotic car. So, you can legally indulge your love of fast driving, and do it on a track designed for racing. Far safer for racing than highways or roadways, the race tracks are properly banked and maintained to support racing, hopefully without causing a car accident.

3. Impaired Driving

While it’s common knowledge that drunk or drugged driving is dangerous, it happens all too frequently, often resulting in fatal car accidents. Getting behind the wheel after a night out with friends may seem like a good idea, but you risk injuring or killing yourself and others. Data from the Centers for Disease Control shows that one-in-three traffic fatalities in the U.S. involves a drunk driver.

Don’t be the person who values their own convenience more highly than the lives and safety of their friends. Call a rideshare service, get a ride with a friend, or wait in place until you are no longer under the influence. As a passenger, never participate in this “reason” for car accidents. Remember that friends do not let friends drive drunk. Take the keys, and don’t give them back until the driver is fully sober. Never ride with an impaired driver.

4. Reckless Driving

Racing, daredevil stunts, tailgating, excessive speeding, and disregarding traffic signals and laws are all examples of reckless driving, another common reason for car accidents. Reckless drivers take risks that can endanger themselves and others.

In addition to practicing the risky behaviors listed above, these drivers often change lanes too quickly, don’t signal their turns, and generally drive aggressively. All of which can result in accidents that could have been avoided. Steer clear of this type of driver if you encounter them on the road. And, of course, don’t engage in reckless behavior when you’re behind the wheel, either.

5. Unsafe Merging

Courteous driving and merging safely aren’t just to help you pass your driving test. They are essential features of defensive driving to avoid car accidents. Don’t race semi-trucks or other drivers, and don’t refuse to allow them to merge ahead of you.

When you’re pulling into traffic, do it slowly while you look around. Watch out for blind spots in your side and rear mirrors or behind a road sign. Intersections can be especially tricky. When entering an intersection, proceed with caution, especially when turning left while navigating oncoming traffic. Right-hand turns (especially at a red light) deserve a second look, too, as cars can seem to come out of nowhere fast.

6. Red Light Running

This dangerous behavior is an all-too-common reason for accidents. Sometimes, it’s because the driver is not paying attention, and sometimes it’s a deliberate maneuver from an impatient driver who wants to avoid getting stopped at the light. Either way, it’s risky behavior that can cause head-on or broadside collisions. When the light changes to green, look both ways and wait three seconds before entering the intersection in case someone’s trying to make it through on a yellow or red light.

7. Drowsy Driving

Whether it’s from insomnia, binge-watching, or poor sleep habits, approximately 30 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep translates to slower reaction times and the possibility of nodding off behind the wheel, which can have deadly consequences. To avoid car accidents caused by drowsiness, start long trips early in the day, try to avoid driving late at night, and always pull over if you feel drowsy. It’s infinitely better to arrive late at your destination than to never arrive at all because you were involved in a collision.

8. Bad Weather

Unlike our driving behavior, none of us can control the weather. However, we can all change the way we respond to challenging conditions. If it’s snowing, icy, foggy, or raining heavily, the best way to avoid a car accident is to stay off the roads, but that’s not always possible.

If you must drive during a storm, slow down and allow a much greater distance between you and the car ahead. Be even more vigilant than usual. If the situation gets extreme, pull over and wait till the downpour passes or the high winds lessen. Road safety is far more important than any appointment you might miss.

9. Design Defects

A manufacturing flaw in your vehicle can also cause auto accidents. Again, this is not something you, as a driver, can typically control — if you’re unaware of the problem. So, how to avoid car accidents based on vehicle defects? You can search the NHTSA Vehicle Identification Number database for unrepaired recall notices for your vehicle. Another way to discover and take care of potential problems is to take your car in for regular maintenance. Keeping your vehicle in good working order is a good step to preventing car accidents.

10. Tire Blowouts

Getting a flat tire while driving can cause you to swerve unexpectedly. This can be unnerving — especially if you’re traveling at speed. Stay calm and keep control of the wheel as you pull over when it’s safe to do so. A spare tire, jack, and lug wrench are essential components of your car safety kit. But, if you’re unsure how to change the tire or conditions are unsafe, call for help. Wawanesa offers additional peace of mind with Roadside Assistance coverage.

Learning how to avoid car accidents makes the roads safer for everyone. Given the number of cars on the streets these days, we all need to do our part to improve safety. To keep ourselves, our passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians safe, we all need to observe the rules of the road, be courteous, and drive safely.

While you’re thinking about safe driving practices, why not contact your friendly Wawanesa agent to review your auto insurance coverage?

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The above content is for informational purposes only and is not a direct representation of coverages offered by Wawanesa or its policies. The information does not refer to any specific contract of insurance and does not modify any definitions, provisions, exclusions or limitations expressly stated in any contracts of insurance. All references within the above content are illustrative and may not apply to your situation. The terms and conditions of the actual insurance policy or policies involved in a claim are determinative as to whether an accident or other loss is covered. To understand the coverage under your current policy, please log into the account management platform to review your policy or contact an agent directly.

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