6 Common Causes of Automobile Crashes in the U.S.

February 22, 2010

Who would have ever guessed that since the first automobile-related fatality reported in London in 1896, that we would be faced with over 25 million peoples death, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). However, the number of deaths continues to rise, even with all the advancements in vehicle safety technology. The WHO has reported that close to 1.2 million people die each year all over the world as a result of automobile accidents. This number is expected to rise by 65 percent by 2020.

The question now is what is causing all these accidents?. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are six major cases for automobile accident related fatalities among people aged 3 to 33:

1. Distracted Drivers

The Director of Traffic Safety at the American Automobile Association, Mark Edwards stated, “The Research tells us that somewhere between 25-50 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in this country really have driver distractions as their root cause.”

The most common distractions are rubbernecking (the slowing down to look at another accident), cell phone use, looking at scenery, other passengers and/or children, adjusting the radio/cd player and reading newspapers, books, maps and other documents. Out of these distractions, cell phone use quadruples the risk of automobile accidents, and is therefore being fined by Police Departments in Maryland, DC and Virginia.

2. Driver Fatigue

100,000 accidents each year in the United States are caused by drowsy drivers, according to the U.S. National Traffic Safety Administration, this risk is greatest between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m..

3. Drunk Driving

An estimated 16,654 people were killed in 2004 as a result of alcohol-related crashes, according to the NHTSA. This means that every half-hour a person dies as a result of drunk driving.

4. Speeding

Speeding increases the risk of crashing, the severity of the impact and reduces the time necessary to avoid a collision. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), reports that when speed is increased from 40 mph to 60 mph, the energy released in the crash more than doubles.

5. Aggressive Driving

Tailgating, flashing lights at other drivers, aggressive/rude gestures, verbal abuse, disregarding traffic signals and changing lanes frequently/unsafely are some examples of aggressive driving.

6. Weather

Heavy rain, hail, snowstorms, ice, high winds and even fog can make driving more difficult. Inclement weather increases our chances or being involved in a collision, therefore, one must take more time to get to where you are going, drive more attentively and make sure and keep enough room between you and the vehicle in front of you. This will decrease your chances of being another fatality.

In conclusion, driving is a responsibility we all must take seriously and try and avoid these six common causes of automobile related fatalities into consideration every time we get behind the wheel.