The top seven causes of car accidents

A car accident is a mysterious thing. One minute you’re driving along and the next something happens to you that can change your life forever. Sometimes car accidents are just minor annoyances. You pay your co-pay to your insurance company, and the body shop replaces a bumper. Other times (36,560 times last year alone), the worst can happen, and someone suffers a fatal injury in a car crash. I’m here to examine the anatomy of a car accident. This article is about the top 7 causes of car accidents.

What are the most popular kinds of auto collisions?

According to the 2018 Illinois Department of Transportation’s annual Crash Facts report – there were 319,146 automobile collisions last year. Of those crashes, nearly 1,000 of them resulted in death. Over 9,000 of those accidents resulted in what’s called an A-Injury.

 A-Injury: An injury that is non-fatal, but prevents the injured party from walking, driving, or normally continuing their activities the way they were before the accident. Includes severe lacerations, broken limbs, skull or chest injuries, and abdominal injuries.

Now that we understand the most severe types of injuries that occur from accidents let’s examine what types of collisions are most likely to happen to you.

  • Rear Ender – When one car slams into the back end of another, we call it a rear-ender. These are the most common types of car accidents, accounting for 29% of all crashes.
  • Turning – The second most frequent automobile collision is caused by turning into traffic. Usually, from a rolling right-hand turn, but also the hazardous left turn, which forces us to cross traffic.
  • Parked – This type of accident is usually straightforward and doesn’t cause many injuries. Someone hits a parked car, often while exiting or entering a parking lot. But can also be deadly when people run into parked cars at full speed from either distracted driving or DUI.
  • Fixed Objects – Contrary to minor fender benders in parking lots, collisions involving fixed objects tend to cause more A-Injuries and Fatalities than parked car accidents. Running into fixed objects like embankments, pylons, trees, poles, and curbs are frequent when falling asleep at the wheel. This happened over 30,000 times in 2018.

How do car accidents like these happen?

Now that we’ve discussed some of the types of car accidents that happen let’s take some time to talk about how these things happen. In my view that are infinite “reasons” accidents happen. Technically, a lack of sleep, for instance, could cause a delay in reaction time and cause an accident. But rather than examine the millions of ways someone could be a bad driver on any given day, let’s discuss what is happening at the moment of the collision. Here are the seven main reasons car accidents occur:

  1. Distracted driving is a primary reason for auto accidents. This can mean anything that is taking the driver’s attention off the road. Things like cell phones, rubbernecking to look at something outside the car, and talking to other passengers are distractions that cause many accidents every year.
  2. Drunk driving is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. In fact, 36.5% of all Illinois car accident fatalities had a blood alcohol content of .01 or higher.  
  3. Driving too fast for the speed limit is one of the ways accidents happen. The speed limits on a road are zoned for a reason. Perhaps the road is winding or rough; maybe there are blind entrances to buildings, or it’s a school zone. Obeying the limit reduces accidents.
  4. Reckless driving causes many crashes every year. Reckless driving is changing lanes sporadically, driving too fast for road conditions, or driving with road rage.
  5. Bad weather is one of the most common reasons accidents happen. In northern Illinois, for example, it usually snows 3-4 months of every year, and not a Winter goes by when I don’t see many accidents in icy conditions.
  6. When people don’t obey traffic lights, car crashes happen. As discussed earlier, rolling through a right turn is one of the most common types of crashes. This is usually during a red light when right turns are permitted.  People roll through, instead of obeying the light.
  7. Nighttime driving causes a lot of accidents. Most drivers are less comfortable at night. This is because visibility is limited, and conditions aren’t as easy to see.

Using this information to our advantage

Now that we know how accidents happen and what types of accidents occur, we can use this information to limit our chances of getting into a collision ourselves. Use the following list when driving, and you reduce your odds of ever being in a crash.

  • NEVER DRINK AND DRIVE. This seems like an obvious one, but people continue to do it every year. Get an Uber or Lyft, ask a friend to be designated driver, or don’t drink if you’re the driver.
  • NEVER DISTRACTED DRIVE. Make it a habit; this time of year, let’s call it a New Year’s Resolution. Please turn your phone on Airplane mode and keep it in your pocket when you get into a car.
  • OBEY THE RULES OF THE ROAD. Slow down to the speed limit (allow yourself enough time to get where you’re going) and actually stop at all red lights, even right-hand turns.
  • DON’T DRIVE IN BAD CONDITIONS. Of course, it may be impossible to predict bad weather, or when you have to drive at night. But, if you plan in advance, and limit your time behind the wheel in adverse conditions, you’ll reduce your overall odds of something terrible happening.

How can MacCloskey Kesler and Associates help?

Accidents occur. The statistics on car crashes are too high to pretend they may never happen to you. At MacCloskey Kesler and Associates, we hope that this article will provide you some insight for your time behind the wheel. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, or know someone who has, please call us right away at (815) 965-2000. We have decades of experience fighting for your financial compensation when someone injures you because of their negligence behind the wheel. Be safe out there.