In 2019, Texas saw 731 fatalities in intersection accidents – and that’s at intersections alone. When you consider all other accident-prone areas, the numbers rise tremendously.
Over the past few decades, vehicle manufacturers and city planners have put various measures in place to prevent accidents, but they still happen. This begs the question, what’s causing all these accidents? Let’s take a look.
Drunk driving and driving under the influence of other mind-altering substances remain the No. 1 cause of car accidents worldwide, not just in Houston.
Driving under the influence significantly impairs a driver’s ability to control the vehicle. Alcohol also lowers inhibitions. It may encourage greater risk-taking, including speeding and taking reckless maneuvers on the road. What’s even worse is that alcohol and other drugs affect your fine motor function, making it difficult to respond to emergencies promptly.
Nearly 3,000 people die due to distracted driving every year. This accounts for 8-9% of all fatal accidents in the U.S. These statistics are alarming, to say the least. This is because distracted driving is almost completely preventable in most situations.
Even simple distractions like texting or talking to your fellow occupants in the vehicle can significantly reduce your ability to keep the vehicle in the lane and limit reaction time.
Reckless Driving and Road Rage
Road rage is a common occurrence on U.S. roads. People are prone to making mistakes on the road, intentionally or unintentionally. When this happens, other road users may get annoyed and try to provoke the reckless driver by driving recklessly themselves with the aim of ‘teaching’ the reckless driver a lesson.
Doing this exacerbates the possibility of accidents, which puts everyone on the road at risk – even innocent road users with nothing to do with it.
Driving over the speed limit has become casually acceptable, not just in Houston but in most places around the world. And, as faster vehicles hit the market every other day, the number of accidents caused by speeding drivers has significantly increased. In fact, 2020 alone saw 12,330 fatalities in car accidents where speed was the contributing factor.
Some studies, backed by scientific evidence, including assumptions from Newton’s laws of motion, suggest that the risk of dying in a car crash increases with every 10 mph of increased speed when driving above 50 mph. This means that increasing your speed from 60 mph to 80 mph quadruples your chances of dying in a car crash.
Running Stop Signs
More than 50% of all reported accidents, including fatal accidents, occur at or near intersections. The reasoning behind this is pretty simple – people often run the stop sign, especially if they don’t see a cop around.
This is even more prevalent on stop signs because even if you stop, you must judge when it’s safe to proceed. The problem with this is that not everyone has the patience for it. It causes some drivers to misjudge when it is safe to proceed.
There’s also the possibility of getting rammed from behind when you stop at an intersection by a reckless or distracted driver.
Improper turns are some of the most common pre-crash events on U.S. roads. Left turns present the highest percentage of accidents, followed by right turns and U-turns. While most of these accidents occur at intersections, lane crossing into oncoming traffic or turning into parking spots also account for a great deal of accidents.
Most accidents due to improper turns occur when a driver fails to use a turn signal. This prompts other road users, including drivers and motorists, to ram into them, resulting in T-bone collisions.
The worst thing about T-bone collisions is that the ramming vehicle comes at incredible speeds, thus exerting a catastrophic force on both vehicles. In most cases, T-bone accidents result in serious injuries and even death.
Running Red and Yellow Lights
Traffic lights are configured such that running any signal may put you directly in the path of incoming traffic. This is most common around intersections, especially when the yellow light is on.
Typically, the yellow light precedes the red light. While some states treat the yellow light as the red light, running a yellow light is not strictly prohibited in Texas. This is meant to give the driver ample time to slow down before they have to stop. It also allows drivers to proceed through an intersection if they determine they don’t have enough time to stop.
Unfortunately, most drivers go with the latter. So, instead of slowing down, they speed up to beat the light. When this happens at an intersection, the speeding driver is at higher risk of driving into oncoming traffic from other drivers doing the same thing.
Although it represents a majority of accident causes, you can’t blame all accidents on human error. Sometimes, the weather plays a major part in causing fatal accidents. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, nearly 60,000 crashes that occurred in 2019 were due to poor weather.
Bad weather can considerably limit your ability to control the vehicle and increase the chances of ramming into oncoming traffic. These include poor visibility and slippery roads due to rain or icy conditions.
As a tax-paying citizen, you rightly expect roads to remain clear of hazards. This is because potholes, debris, and other hazards may cause you to lose control. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. What’s even worse is the parties responsible don’t always put up signs to warn of impending hazards down the road.
Most accidents due to road hazards occur when a person driving at high speeds hits a pothole or other hazards. It causes them to lose control and veer off the lane. In worst-case scenarios, this results in damage to the vehicle or even collision with other vehicles.
The Bottom Line
Accidents aren’t preventable, but knowing what causes them can help keep you safe to some extent. When you get into a car accident, it is advisable to seek an experienced personal injury lawyer to increase your chances of getting compensation.