Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Each year, more than 40,000 people are killed in auto accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that a car accident occurs every 10 seconds, and every 12 minutes, someone in the United States will die in a car crash.

The personal injuries and property damage caused by these accidents is staggering as well. In 2005, there were 6.5 million auto accidents in the United States accounting for over 3 million injuries and over $230 billion in property damage.

In light of the serious nature of these accidents, it is very important to understand the causes of auto accidents so that we can more easily prevent them in the future.

Distracted Drivers

Distracted drivers are the leading cause of auto accidents in the United States. Rubbernecking, a phenomenon where drivers slow down to stare at another accident, accounts for 16% of driver distraction-related accidents. It is the most common cause of driver distractions in the country.

Other reasons for driver distractions include:

• Driver fatigue

• Staring at scenery

• Passenger distractions

• Adjusting the stereo or an MP3 player

• Cell phones

Talking on cell phones can increase your risk of an accident drastically. You are four times more likely to be involved in a crash when you are on your cell phone. As a result, many states have outlawed the use of cell phones while driving unless a hands-free device is employed.

Driver fatigue causes approximately 100,000 accidents a year. Drivers who are fatigued have slower reaction time when faced with adverse conditions. They also have a tendency to exhibit erratic driving behavior, such as veering out of lane, failing to observe traffic signs, and unexpectedly changing speed.