Why Do Most Car Accidents Occur?
There are approximately 6 million auto accidents in the United States each year, resulting in roughly 40,000 deaths and hundreds of thousands of serious injuries. In Florida alone, there are nearly 400,000 vehicle crashes each year. The most common times of the day for car accidents to occur are between 8 AM and 9 AM, and between 3 PM and 6 PM. However, nearly half of all fatal accidents take place at night. Rear end collisions are the leading type of car crash, accounting for nearly a quarter of all vehicle accidents.
For decades, experts have been analyzing the question of why car accidents occur, and although there are certainly external factors such as bad weather that contribute to some crashes, most result from some type of human error. A few years back, Stanford Law School identified several reports and studies that looked at the cause of vehicle crashes, and although the exact percentages vary, every single report found that human error is a main contributor in more than 90% of all car accidents.
Human error can mean a lot of different things, but in a large number of cases, it refers to some type of driver negligence. Some of the most common ways that drivers contribute to car accidents include:
Because Florida has great weather most of the year, speeding is an ongoing temptation here in the Sunshine State. People seem to be in more of a hurry these days, and it is easy to push the limits by driving faster than is legally allowed. There are reasons why we have speed limits, however. The faster you drive, the less time you have to react when adverse conditions arise on the roadways. In addition, crashes that occur at higher speeds tend to cause greater vehicle damage and more serious and catastrophic injuries.
Excessive speeding, which generally means driving 15 or 20 mph or more over the speed limit, is one common form of aggressive or reckless driving. Others may include tailgating, running stop signs and red lights, unsafe lane changes, unsafe or illegal passing maneuvers, sharp or illegal turns, and street racing. These types of driving behaviors greatly increase the risk of a collision.
Alcohol is a factor in approximately one third of all vehicle collisions. In addition, almost 40% of all speeding drivers who are involved in fatal car crashes are intoxicated. It is well-known that intoxication impairs a motorist’s ability to operate a vehicle safely, but unfortunately, far too many people still make the horrible and often fateful decision to get behind the wheel after having too much to drink.
Distractions are one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents today. This has largely been driven by the widespread use of smartphones and the need to “stay connected”. Texting while driving and sending and receiving other types of electronic messages are especially dangerous, because they distract drivers visually, manually, and cognitively. The end result is that a driver is entirely focused on his/her phone and away from the road where it should be.
Drowsiness is one of the leading causes of auto accidents after dark. According to the CDC, drowsy or fatigued driving is responsible for approximately 83,000 crashes, 37,000 injuries, and just under 900 fatalities in an average year. But the CDC goes on to say that these are most likely very conservative estimates, because most people who are involved in car crashes do not admit that they were tired or sleepy at the time. It is believed that the real number of fatal crashes (caused by drowsy driving) is closer to 6,000 each year.
Not all car accidents that stem from human error are caused by one of the drivers involved. There are other parties whose actions could be responsible for an auto accident, including:
- Vehicle Passengers: A passenger of a vehicle could contribute to an accident by distracting the driver, encouraging the driver to drive recklessly, or even through direct actions like grabbing the steering wheel.
- Mechanics: A mechanic or repair shop could be at fault if their negligence caused or contributed to the accident. Examples of negligence may include installing incorrect or defective vehicle parts, failing to identify a needed vehicle repair, or causing vehicle damage while making repairs.
- Vehicle Part Manufacturers: If a car accident happened because of a faulty vehicle or vehicle part, it may be possible to bring a claim against the product manufacturer or distributor. Common examples when this might occur include faulty brakes that failed to bring the vehicle to a stop to avoid a crash, and defective tires that blow out after being newly installed on a vehicle.
Following an auto accident, an extensive investigation is necessary to look at all of the contributing factors to determine why the accident occurred and which parties may be at fault.
Contact an Experienced Pensacola, FL Car Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one suffered injury in a vehicle accident in the Pensacola area, Whibbs, Stone, & Barnett is here to help. Call our office today at 1-888-219-4561 or message us online for a free consultation and case evaluation. We will meet with you to thoroughly assess your case and advise you of your legal rights and options.