In 2019, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) reported more than 128,000 automobile collisions in the state of Virginia. While this number was marginally lower than 2018, it shows how car crashes are a serious problem in the US and the world.
There’s an urgent need to study the leading causes behind the different types of automotive accidents and strengthen controls to limit their occurrence. From speeding to drunk and aggressive driving, many preventable driving errors contribute to deaths and injuries every year.
For your convenience, we’ve compiled a list of the top reasons for car accidents so you can take extra care while you’re on the road and prevent yourself from committing the same mistakes.
According to the 2019 Virginia Traffic Crash Stats report, out of the 128,172 accidents that took place in 2019, 24,739 were directly related to speeding.
Sadly, speeding-related crashes are among the deadliest. When a car stops abruptly and collides at high speed, its momentum creates a powerful impact and puts everyone involved at a significant risk of injury and death.
Statistics support this conclusion, with 349 deaths, 13,289 injuries, and a 3.0% increase in speeding-related fatalities recorded in 2019.
Aside from being a danger to both the driver, any passengers and other road users, speeding of any kind, beyond the legally designated limit, is prohibited by law. You’re likely to face hefty legal and financial repercussions if you don’t adhere to these restrictions.
- Distracted Driving
The cellphone has become an indispensable commodity in our lives. Many can’t even walk to the bathroom without taking it with them. Unfortunately, this addictive behavior can spell doom for drivers. Despite stern warnings and in some states, laws, against the use of cellphones while operating an automobile, thousands of motor vehicle accidents are attributed to this act every year. While the laws vary between the 50 states regarding cellphone use while driving, most states ban any use by drivers under 18.
Texting is specifically prohibited for drivers in 48 states. But some motorists are reluctant to follow these laws, and this recklessness leads to a lack of concentration on the road, and consequently, to severe accidents.
Aside from smartphone usage, there are other behaviors which also fall under the category of distracted driving. Generally, anything that takes the driver’s eyes away from the road, such as changing the music, or tending to the pets in the backseat, is considered distracted driving.
Virginia High Safety Office (VHSO) reports that the three most disastrous forms of distracted driving are rubbernecking (glancing towards a roadside accident), taking your eyes off the road, and smartphone usage while driving. Distracted driving was the cause of 13,258 injuries in 2019.
- Drunk Driving
Despite the imposition of strict criminal action and DUI laws, thousands still make the reckless decision to drive under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. Consequently, this rash behavior can sadly result in the loss of innocent lives.
According to the VHSO, 7,048 alcohol-related crashes were registered in the state of Virginia. These accidents contributed to 4,402 injuries and 264 fatalities.
Alcohol in your system renders the body unfit to operate a vehicle in many ways. Decision-making skills go out of the window, reflexes and responses are impaired, and concentration takes a nosedive. Speeding, dangerous turns and drifting across center dividers are just some examples of risky behaviors commonly exhibited by drunk drivers.
- Reckless or Aggressive Driving
Other forms of negligent driving are also commonplace on roads. Street racing and aggressive handling of the steering wheel are strictly labeled negligent behavior in the eyes of the law. Furthermore, tailgating, reckless passing, cutting corners to get past other cars, and indulging in road rage all fall under the umbrella of aggressive driving. This personal negligence leads to significant human and financial losses every year.
- Fatigued Driving
Operating a motor vehicle when you can barely keep your eyes open is tantamount to driving blind. Some studies report that sleepy driving is as influential a factor in accidents as drunk driving. Fatigued drivers lack the mental alertness, resulting in slower response times and leaving them susceptible to losing their concentration.
There have even been incidences where the driver has fallen asleep at the wheel in moving vehicles. These severe accidents are often linked to semi-trailer trucks, as some profit-driven companies have been known to force truck drivers to operate their vehicles for long hours and assign unrealistic quotas, which indirectly contributes to these disasters.
Speed, distractions, alcohol, recklessness and fatigue are all factors which can put innocent lives at risk on the roads. As a driver, it’s your responsibility to take heed of these negligent behaviors and minimize risks to ensure the safety of everyone on the roads. Make sure you follow applicable state laws and speeding limits to prevent the occurrence of preventable accidents.