The National Safety Council reports that around 4.8 million people were injured in car crashes in the US in 2020. Despite stay-at-home orders and stay at home orders, vehicle-related fatality rates still increased 24% in the last year. Here are some of the top reasons for car accidents.
Over 3000 people were killed from accidents involving distracted driving in 2019 (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). This includes any behavior that takes the driver’s attention away from the road, such as eating, texting, talking, listening to music, or daydreaming.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding accounts for around one third of all vehicle accidents. There is a common belief that going 5-10 mph above the speed limit is not considered speeding, but what is considered a safe speed always depends on the context. On a sunny day, going 5 mph above the limit would be considered relatively safe, but a rainy day might call for a stricter or even slower interpretation of the speed limit. Note that even 1 mph over the speed limit is illegal and grounds for being written up with a fine if you are pulled over.
Alcohol, Marijuana, and Opioids
In California, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content of 0.8% or more. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute argues that driving under the influence is the most dangerous form of distracted driving – their studies find that the influence of alcohol and drugs multiply crash rates by 36 times. The manifestations of these findings are apparent in CDC data that shows that every day, 29 people die because of an alcohol-impaired driver.
Micro-sleeping happens when drivers are tired and fall asleep for a brief period of time, usually from 1 to 10 seconds. These episodes are dangerous and give opportunity for drivers to lose control of the car. According to the CDC, people who have been away for 18 hours straight have the same cognitive and motor abilities as someone with a blood alcohol content of 0.05%. It is imperative for drivers to get adequate sleep before driving and take breaks when they feel tired.
Rain, snow, and fog visually impair the driver easily. Cold and wet weather can also make roads slippery and thereby make vehicles harder to control. When driving in harsh weather conditions, it is important to drive slower and prepare the car with appropriate equipment to ensure safety.