Automobile-related fatalities are the leading cause of death among people aged 3 to 33, according to statistics by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, studies also indicate that drivers could be doing more to protect themselves and others from the dangers of the road. Here are the most common causes of traffic accidents and what you can do to prevent becoming part of the statistics.
A lot of people equate distracted driving only with texting, but it isn't quite that simple. Texting while behind the wheel is certainly one example of distracted driving—however, so is talking on the phone, trying to work the GPS system while in motion, looking for a better channel on the radio, eating lunch after running through a drive-thru while navigating traffic on the way back to work, and chatting with friends about your plans.
Speeding is actually the second most dangerous traffic habit. However, it's important to understand that speed limits aren't arbitrarily assigned—they're actually researched and designed to accommodate the traffic patterns on the road with the maximum efficiency and minimum fatalities. Keep yourself under the speed limit by watching for posted changes, especially in urban areas where school zones and rush hour traffic can cause the maximum allowable speeds to vary depending on the time of day. That helps reduce auto-pedestrian accidents as well. If you have to pass a slower vehicle, like a bus, make sure that you do so when the bus is in motion, not letting passengers on and off.
Driver fatigue, also known as drowsy driving, is one of the top causes of accidents in the United States. At a certain point, sleep deprivation becomes similar to intoxication—and drowsy drivers can fall asleep even while traveling at high rates of speed. You can avoid being a drowsy driver by trying to get more sleep (drivers who get 6 hours of sleep or less are at the most risk) and making sure that you don't allow any sleep disorders, like sleep apnea or insomnia, to go untreated. In addition, if you find yourself yawning, drifting across lanes, hitting the rumble strip, or missing your exits, consider pulling off to the side of the road to nap before you go any further. If you're on a long trip, prevent drowsy driving by making frequent stops to get out of the vehicle and stretch or plan to break the trip out over a couple of days.
While you can do your part to avoid being part of the problem, you may still not be able to avoid being in an accident with another, less safety-minded driver. If that happens, consider contacting a car accident attorney for advice on what you might need to do to recover fair compensation for your injuries.