An average of 90 people dies in car accidents on US roads every day. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), these tragedies totaled a staggering 32,675 crash-related deaths in 2014 alone.
Fatal car crashes can occur with a single vehicle, or involve two or more vehicles. While many people die during a crash itself, many others perish later as a result of injuries they received during the crash. Even more suffer long-term disabilities as a result of their accident.
Understanding why there are so many fatal car accidents can help you avoid being in one.
Leading Causes of Fatal Vehicle Accidents
The single biggest cause of fatal car accidents is distracted driving. This is especially true for drivers between 15 and 20 years old. Distractions come in many forms: looking at others in the car, playing with the radio, reaching for something on the floor, or answering a phone call or text message.
As distracted driving is now such a significant cause of accidents, many states have made it illegal to use a cell phone without a hands-free device or to engage in other distracting behavior while driving. Most states only allow hands-free cell devices for drivers over a specific age.
Another big contributor to the number of fatal accidents is excessive speed. The faster a vehicle is moving, the more likely it is there will be fatalities in a crash. Males, especially young men and teenagers, are more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident than their female counterparts. Alcohol or drug use while driving often contributes to this fact.
Other common factors contributing to auto crashes are:
Misuse of alcohol, narcotics, and prescription medications while driving
Driving while tired or upset
Not using seatbelts
Driving an unsafe vehicle
Driving at night and during hazardous road conditions
As you can see, most of these causes of auto fatalities are avoidable.
How to Prevent a Fatal Car Accident
According to research from the NHTSA, most traffic accidents happen on weekend nights, during weekday rush-hour traffic, and during holidays when many people drive long distances to visit family and friends. Being extra alert when driving at these times can help prevent an accident.
Other ways to reduce your chances of having an auto accident are:
Never drink and drive, and never use any prescription medication that may impair your ability to drive.
Turn off your cell-phone (or use a hands-free device if you are old enough to do so legally). Do not text and drive.
Always be sure everyone in the car is wearing a working seatbelt.
Obey all road signs and traffic signals, and never exceed the posted speed limit.
Adjust your driving style and speed to the road and weather conditions.
Avoid driving during heavy rain, snow, and other adverse weather conditions.
By following laws and regulations, practicing defensive driving, and using common sense, you can greatly lower your chances of being involved in a fatal car accident.