The truth is that most accidents happen when someone is distracted or impaired. But do you know what the other most common causes are? Read on to find out.
Half the battle of being a good driver is recognizing potential hazards and reacting appropriately, but to do that, you need to know what to look out for. Here are some of the most common causes of accidents (excluding impaired and distracted driving) and what you can do to minimize the risk the next time you hit the road.
This is probably one of the first causes you thought of, but being one of the most obvious means it can also be treated too flippantly. Speeding may be putting you in more danger than you realize. In the Ontario government’s ranking of the most fatal situations, speed-related collisions come in right behind impaired and distracted driving.
If you’re on the road and you notice other drivers speeding, it’s best to maintain a safe speed and when possible allow them to pass you. Even if it seems like the flow of traffic is going faster than you are, stick to the posted speed limit. In a CAA survey, 93% of respondents identified speeding in rural areas as a risk they’re concerned about, but only 76% felt the same way about speeding on freeways, even though higher speeds can mean higher impact collisions.
Another dangerous situation is not heeding to special speed restrictions like construction zones or school zones. Both of these examples involve pedestrians that are more vulnerable than usual, whether it’s a child who may not be as safety-conscious as an adult, or a construction worker who is dealing with potentially dangerous equipment and in the case of road construction, being closer to traffic than usual. And yet, in a CAA poll, 64% of Canadians say they have witnessed speeding in school zones.
An Ontario Police guidebook from 2009 says that 26% of fatal or injury-causing accidents are due to fatigued driving. Interestingly, 92.4% of officers surveyed said that they had pulled over a driver they thought was impaired who ended up just being too tired to drive. So, if fatigued driving can cause the same driving symptoms as impaired driving, it needs to be treated with a similar level of gravity.
If you feel yourself getting drowsy while driving, it’s better to find a safe place to sleep it off, not start guzzling coffee and trying to push through. Caffeine only provides a temporary boost and if you’re already tired it’ll be worse once it’s worked through your system.
Aggressive driving is difficult to quantify because it encompasses a lot of bad driving behaviours. It can include speeding, tailgating, weaving through traffic, running red lights, not adhering to the right of way, or a combination of all of the above.
In 2017, the Ontario Provincial Police reported that there were 27 deaths related to aggressive driving, a shocking jump from the 15 in 2016.
The nature of aggressive driving habits make intersections dangerous areas, but thankfully the number of injury-causing accidents at intersections has been going down as intersections get safer. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the most dangerous intersections in your area, so you can plan alternate routes or just be more cautious in zones with confusing or difficult-to-see signage, poorly marked lanes, or any number of other factors that can increase risk of accidents.
As for how to deal with aggressive drivers, the best offence is a good defence (as in defensive driving).
Nighttime driving tends to exacerbate all the other common causes. For the most part this is because of the reduced visibility, but it is also a time when drivers are more likely to be fatigued and more likely to be impaired. As of 2009, 60% of pedestrian fatalities were at night or in low visibility conditions, and U.S. surveys showed seatbelt use to be down 5-10% at night.
So how do you stay safe at night? In combination with all the other risk-avoidance tips in this article, make sure all your lights are fully functional and clean, as well as your windows and mirrors.
Even when you make all the right moves on the road, accidents can happen, and they can be debilitating. At Helping Hand, our personal injury law team understands and can help you deal with the ramifications of a catastrophic accident. Call 1-888-288-HURT, and we’ll do everything we can to help.