Why Are There So Many Accidents in the United States?

Why Are There So Many Accidents in the United States?

Car accident scenes are a traumatic but familiar sight on U.S. roads. According to the CDC, there are more than 2 million car accidents every year in this country alone. These accidents leave death and injury in their wake, as well as devastated family and friends.   

But what is behind this scourge? Can accidents always be blamed on drivers? Or are there other factors at play?

Distracted Driving Is at the Top of the List

Unfortunately, it seems that most fingers do point to drivers. Experts agree that distracted driving is the top reason for car crashes in the U.S. In fact, 94% of accidents happen due to human error or distraction. Nine people die in the country every day as a result of an accident caused by a distracted driver. 

When drivers become distracted, they take their eyes off the road. They take their hands off the steering wheel. They also let their minds wander, which takes their focus away from controlling their car. Some drivers text and drive, while others talk on the phone. Many try to eat breakfast while driving to work. 

Distracted driving commonly happens among young drivers aged 15 to 20. A survey conducted in 2019 found that 9% of these drivers were distracted when they caused an accident. Even worse, young drivers who text or email while driving are more likely to ignore other driving-related rules. This includes not wearing a seatbelt and driving while intoxicated.

Speeding Is a Common Cause of Accidents

Drivers speed on U.S. roads every day. A lot of the time, speeding ends in tragedy. People who drive too fast have less time to react to sudden road changes. They don’t have the best chance of avoiding obstacles or pedestrians. Sometimes, they hit the brakes too late and hit a child who runs out onto the street after a ball or a dog. 

Speeding is one of the primary causes of fatal accidents. While speed limits exist countrywide, drivers disobey them and continue to cause serious accidents. In states where bicycling is common, speeding also results in several bicycle crashes. 

Drunk Driving Still Plays a Huge Role in Car Accidents

Drunk driving used to be at the top of the list of reasons the U.S. experiences such a high number of car accidents. It dropped slightly because of the introduction of car technology and the visibility of drunk driving campaigns. But this doesn’t mean we can excuse drunk driving or that it doesn’t still cause a massive number of accidents every year. The legal limit in the U.S. is 0.08%. Drunk drivers choose to exceed this limit and then get behind the wheel. Even with the option of Uber or designated drivers, drunk driving is one of the top five reasons people die in accidents. 

Driving While Tired Is As Dangerous as Drunk Driving

Driving while tired or drowsy is just about the same as driving drunk. Overtired drivers have a slower reaction time and may even experience double vision. Many drivers believe they can push through the fogginess, but they often drift off behind the wheel. When this happens, they can end up driving into oncoming traffic or a ditch next to the road. This would be avoidable if drivers would simply stop and get some rest before driving on. 

Reckless Driving Is on the Rise

Reckless driving, or aggressive behavior, doesn’t only lead to car crashes but increases the likelihood of road rage incidents. Aggressive driving includes speeding in slow lanes, swerving between lanes, and tailgating. Drivers who do this are more than just rude to other drivers. They effectively put their lives in danger every time they swerve or speed. The U.S. has several measures in place to curb reckless driving. This includes fines, license points, and jail time. However, much more must be done to eliminate this behavior on the roads. 

Driving in Stormy or Dangerous Weather Can Result in an Accident

It’s not always possible to avoid driving while it rains. The problem is that most drivers don’t practice safe driving habits when it is storming. Sometimes, drivers even carry on driving with a huge tornado bearing down on them. The safest thing to do in most instances when a tornado forms is to leave the car. However, drivers should only do this if they can get lower than the roadway level. Those who try to outdrive a tornado may end up panicking and causing an accident. 

When it is raining or hailing, drivers should reduce their speed and turn their car’s headlights on. Accidents happen in rainy weather because drivers do not adjust their driving.

Driving in Snow Is Not Advisable

Heavy snowfall makes the road a dangerous place to be. But, like those who continue to drive while tired or in a rainstorm, some attempt to drive in snow. Those with no other choice should only drive in four-wheel drive mode and slowly. Vehicles without snow tires should have chains. Snow causes roads to become slippery. It reduces tire grip, which can lead to a loss of traction. This makes it difficult to steer a vehicle and can cause the wheel to spin. 

Packed snow can also lead to black ice, which is incredibly dangerous for drivers. Black ice is invisible, and drivers will only know that they’ve hit a patch of the ice when they’re spinning out of control. 

Drivers Must Take Control of Their Driving Habits and Behavior

The only way to reduce the accident rate in the U.S. is for every driver to drive responsibly. This means not driving while drunk or tired, not getting distracted, and driving slowly (or not at all) in bad weather. But, for this to be a reality, drivers must acknowledge reckless behavior and bad driving choices. This alone shows that there is no easy road to follow to get to a reduction in car crashes. Until collective action is taken, tragedy will continue to reign on the roads.

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