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Most Common Causes of Car Accidents and How to Avoid Them

There are common pitfalls that many drivers fall into when it comes to driving that can lead to devastating consequences. Even the seemingly smallest mistake can cost a hefty price. Knowing the top reasons car accidents occur can help you avoid them in the future—and identify those on the road who may be influenced by these factors.

Distracted by Food

Distracted driving is the top cause of car accidents. Not paying attention to the road or momentarily looking away can cause drivers to miss stop signs, red lights, merging cars and more. What many people may be surprised to hear is that phones aren’t the number one distractor. Instead, it’s food. People often go through the drive thru and attempt to eat while they’re driving, especially when settling in for a long trip.

Unfortunately, taking your eyes off the road or a hand off the wheel to eat causes several accidents. It is best to wait until you reach your destination to eat any food or park along the way to eat before resuming your trip.

Distracted by Phones

Of course, the above doesn’t discount that phones are a large distraction. Whether answering a text, checking social media or following a GPS, phones instantly take your attention off the road. Sometimes it’s instinctual to look down when you hear a notification. But this causes frequent accidents across the U.S., which is why driving while on the phone is banned in some locations such as school zones. If you are caught checking your phone while driving, you could face hefty fines.

Intoxicated Driving

Sometimes you may not be distracted but impaired. Drunk driving on its own causes around 10,000 deaths every year on roadways with around 30 people dying every day from drunk driving accidents.

Being intoxicated impairs your motor skills, vision and judgement capabilities, leaving you unable to react quickly as you may need to.

Avoid driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Always find a ride or use a ridesharing service if you have been drinking. The consequences of driving while under the influence, aside from fatalities, include fines, vehicle impoundment, license suspension, raised car insurance rates and often jail time.

In many states, a DUI will remain on your driving record for 10 years or more meaning your car insurance rates will continue to be influenced for this length of time.

Speeding

Speeding is a common mistake drivers make. They grow impatient at other drivers or are trying to beat the time to get to where they need to go, especially if they’re late to an event. Unfortunately, driving faster often gives you less control over your vehicle and makes it more difficult to stop quickly. Many car accidents occur on highways with high speed limits as driver exceed those limits and lose control or hit cars merging onto the highway.

Follow the speed limit closely while driving. If you are going to an event, leave early so that you don’t have to worry about getting there on time.

Running Red Lights

Running red lights and stop signs is another commonality when drivers grow impatient or wish to reach their destination quicker. The red light may be taking too long or there appears to be no one around the stop sign, so drivers tend to just hit the gas. This causes frequent wrecks, however. Stop signs and red lights are there to protect drivers and their passengers as well as pedestrians attempting to cross streets.

Drivers who run red lights and stop signs run the risk of striking not only other vehicles, but pedestrians and cyclists as well.

Reckless and Aggressive Driving

Sometimes a driver may have their attention on the road and can still cause an accident. Reckless and aggressive driving can occur when someone experiences road rage or fails to consider the consequences of their driving. This can mean ignoring traffic signals, cutting off drivers, tailgating and more.

Avoid reckless and aggressive driving. Keep in mind that accidents you are involved in can hurt other people, yourself and those in your own vehicle. Also try to avoid riding in a vehicle with known aggressive or reckless drivers.

Fatigue

Believe it or not, fatigue can have a similar affect on your motor skills as being under the influence of alcohol. Being exhausted can slow your reflexes and reduce your critical thinking skills. If you are growing tired while driving, find somewhere safe to pull over to rest, such as a hotel or rest stop. This is especially important for truckers and those making overnight trips.

Weather Conditions

Bad weather such as rain, fog and ice can make driving difficult and dangerous. Always make sure your tires and breaks are up to code so you can prevent accidents. Drive slow and alert when the weather is bad so you can react quickly if needed.