Despite the latest innovations in car safety, the United States continues to lead the world in road accidents, according to a recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO). Its researchers analyzed the road laws and accidents in over 175 countries. It found that the fatality rate in the US was over 50% higher than similarly developed countries like Australia and Canada, as well as certain countries in Western Europe.
These fatalities continue to increase, even during the quarantine period. In fact, a new report by the National Safety Council found that motor vehicle fatalities per miles driven increased by over 14% in March 2020 compared to last year. Deaths are just the tip of the iceberg, too. A 2020 paper by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that for every road fatality, over 18 people are hospitalized, and over 400 had injuries that needed at least first aid care.
Auto accidents can cause major injuries and financial issues because of medical, repair, and sometimes legal fees. Here are the most common causes of road accidents and how you can avoid them.
Accidents related to distracted driving took over 2,841 lives in 2018, according to the NHTSA data. Distracted driving involves any activity that diverts your focus from driving. This can include eating, changing the volume or station on your car radio, texting, or simply talking with your passengers. The NHTSA stresses that you can never truly drive safely when you’re distracted, as taking your eyes off the road for just five seconds can lead to a major crash.
While driving alone, keep your phone on silent and asleep, especially if you have it mounted on your dashboard. Turn off notifications before you start your drive, too. If you’re with passengers, ask them to keep noise to a minimum and to reserve their questions for you after the trip or when you stop for gas or food. This way, you can fully focus on the road and keep everyone in the car safe.
No matter how late you are for work or how urgent you need to attend to an emergency, you should never consider speeding. NHTSA data showed that over 9,378 people died because of accidents related to overspeeding. It also showed that speeding accounted for about 26% of all traffic fatalities in 2017.
Stay within your road’s speed limit even if you’re in a rush or you’re pressured to speed up by your passengers. And if you notice that someone else on the road is speeding, let them pass by, especially if you’re on the left lane. Give speeders lots of space, as they’re more likely to lose control over their vehicle and potentially crash into other cars. Truckers that are hustling to make their delivery deadline may be prone to speeding. Call 911 and a truck accident attorney if they end up scuffing or, worse, crashing into your vehicle.
No matter how good you are at driving, you should never do it when you’re sleepy. The NHTSA found that drowsy driving caused over 795 deaths in 2017. Fatigue is the new normal for most workers, as a lot of people either spend long hours at work and don’t get enough sleep. This creates a risky road for drivers and passengers everywhere.
The best way to deal with this is to get at least seven hours of sleep before you get in front of the wheel. While drinking coffee or energy drinks may make you feel more alert, their effect only lasts a few hours, and you might still end up taking micro-sleeps. A micro-sleep happens when you lose consciousness for about four to five seconds. It only takes a few seconds to cause a crash. If you’re starting to feel drowsy, stop at the nearest gas station or parking space, and sleep for about 20 minutes. You’ll feel refreshed and alert for the next few miles.
Auto accidents continue to soar in the US because of careless drivers. Don’t let yourself become one of them. Focus on nothing but the road, stay within the speed limit, and drive only when you’re well-rested and sober. On the road, safety should always be your number one priority.