How Drivers Can Cause and Prevent Accidents
In 2016, 37,461 Americans died in car accidents. This was a 5.6 percent jump over the previous year. While the causes behind these accidents can vary greatly, ranging from drunk driving to bad weather, most reasons can be reduced to human error of some kind.
Human Error and Car Accidents
There are many ways a driver can increase the possibility of a fatal car crash:
Driving distracted: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claims that there were 3,477 deaths that involved distracted driving in 2015. This accounts for about 10 percent of all fatal car crashes. In addition, there were 391,000 injuries that happened the same year for the same reason.
A driver can get sidetracked by numerous distractions. A case in point is how today’s technology, be it the cellphone or vehicle infotainment, can be a great source of distraction. For instance, studies have found that drivers are using their phones less to make calls and more to surf the web and text their friends. Thus, cellphones can compel a driver to take their eyes off the road. Furthermore, even technology that is supposed to aid a driver while operating their vehicle, such as voice control, can become a distraction because it forces the driver to make sure that their commands are heard correctly.
Daydreaming while driving: As distracting as tech devices can be, we don’t really need them to take our eyes off the road. Sometimes, our brains provide enough distraction to cause a crash. Statistics show that two-thirds of distracted driving accidents can be attributed to daydreaming. This means that the desire to escape boredom can actually be deadly.
Driving drowsy: Drowsiness, be it due to a lack of sleep or general fatigue, is responsible for an estimated 100,000 car accidents every year. In many cases, drowsiness is a lot like being drunk; the driver’s reflexes are slowed down, their judgment is impaired, and they are likely to nod off while at relatively high speeds. All of this can be a recipe for disaster.
Driving recklessly: Despite there being no one definition of what constitutes reckless driving, most people can agree on what does and doesn’t qualify. Put simply, any activity that needlessly endangers the lives of other motorists on the road can be considered reckless. Speeding, ignoring traffic lights, and racing other cars are all prime examples of what most people would consider reckless driving.
Driving while intoxicated: Also known as driving under the influence, this is when a driver has had too much alcohol to drink. Generally speaking, the alcohol levels in your blood must rise beyond a certain threshold (.08 percent) for you to be considered legally too drunk to drive. Similar to being drowsy, being drunk means that the driver’s perception of their surroundings is imperfect, and they become more liable to make poor decisions that endanger not only their lives but also the lives of their fellow motorists.
How to Prevent Accidents Caused by Human Error
Fortunately, there are many ways to make our roads safer:
Fighting distractions head on: Responsible drivers can just tuck their phones away while they’re on the open road. However, the urge to check a text or notification is often too much for some drivers. That’s why many states have laws prohibiting drivers from playing with their phones. Not surprisingly, these same states also have the lowest rates of phone usage behind the wheel.
Government officials play a role: The National Governor’s Association recently issued a report detailing the role governors can play in making our streets safer. This report highlighted the importance of improving the coordination between different state agencies and offered actionable insight that has the potential to reduce fatal accidents.
Car manufacturers can also help: Since car manufacturers often compete to stuff their vehicles with as much technology as possible, they are largely responsible for causing unnecessary distractions. Therefore, manufacturers need to reconsider their positions and start thinking of new ways to help keep drivers focused on the road. If anything, drivers have to contend with human nature in order to stay focused, and the last thing they need is a screen that lets them browse through their social media. Thankfully, many carmakers are taking steps forward with technology such as lane-departure warning and automatic emergency braking.
If you have been involved in a car accident caused by a distracted or reckless driver, contact the practice of Denis Driscoll at (973) 585-6982 for a free consultation at our office in Parsippany.