The Danger of Driving: Car Accidents
In modern society, transportation continues to be an essential aspect of daily life. For many people, that means getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle and driving. But with so many drivers on the roads, busy highways and plenty of potential distractions, car accidents seem to be inevitable and a very serious risk to consider.
There are many reasons why a car accident could happen—inclement weather conditions, distracted driving and driving under the influence are a few—but they may be avoidable if you take proper care with your driving habits. A responsible driver may be able to save time, money, frustration and preserve their health by being knowledgeable and practice safe driving.
How Can Weather Cause Car Accidents?
One of the factors that may contribute to car accidents, which is out of the driver’s control, is the weather. Inclement weather conditions, such as: rain, high winds, snow, or ice may result in serious car accidents.
If there is a particularly heavy amount of rain that lasts for a long period of time, and if there is a poor system of water drainage on the roads, a driver may find themselves hydroplaning on flooded streets. Hydroplaning is when your car skims across a layer of surface water that separates your tires from the road and doesn’t allow your car to grip the road, or create traction. A driver’s best defense against flooded streets and potential hydroplaning is to slow down and use extreme caution around turns and bends.
2) Snow and Ice
Snow and ice have the potential to decrease the traction between your car’s tires and the road so that it may take longer to stop and longer to accelerate. Snow may generally decrease the road’s visibility to the driver, hide dangerous obstacles and debris, and muffle sounds that the driver might normally be able to hear, such as sirens and horns.
Black ice is a phenomenon in cold weather that could potentially cause a car accident, as well. Black ice is not actually black, but occurs when water freezes in a thin layer, making it hard to see or nearly invisible. It’s almost transparent and seems to be simply a natural part of the road. If a driver runs over this ice without seeing it, they could lose contact with the ground and go sliding out of control.
How Distractions Cause Car Accidents
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines “distraction” as “a specific type of inattention that occurs when drivers divert their attention from the driving task to focus on some other activity instead.”
There are 3 different categories of distraction:
Visual distractions: elements that take the driver’s eyes off the task at hand.
Manual distractions: elements that cause the driver to take their hands off the wheel.
Cognitive distractions: elements that take the driver’s mind off the task they’re currently doing.
Distractions may include everything from:
- Elevated emotions
- Looking at a map or GPS
- Eating or drinking
- Talking or texting on a cellphone
Several of these may even take place simultaneously and could compound and increase the likelihood of a car accident.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a large contributing factor to car accidents across many age groups. In some states, it’s known as driving while impaired (DWI), and usually include prescription and non-prescription drugs as types of “impairment” as well as alcohol. Most states are becoming aware of such high statistics of DUI’s and are implementing “Zero Tolerance” type policies.
Visit the Governor’s Highway Safety Association to look up the laws and penalties in your state for drunken driving.
When Should I Hire A Car Accident Attorney?
There are many factors that may contribute to serious car accidents. Being aware and knowledgeable of how they may occur and how you can avoid them may protect you in future circumstances. But if you find yourself in a confusing, frustrating, costly and serious car accident, you may need to speak with a car accident attorney to help you understand your rights and to help guide you through the claims process.