Car accidents happen every day. They are a common but tragic occurrence, particularly when one happens to you or someone you love.
In a single recent year, 32,719 people died and 2.3 million people were injured in 5.7 million car accidents in the United States, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In South Carolina alone, 767 people died in car crashes that year, and thousands more were injured.
Car accidents happen for many reasons, virtually all of which are the result of negligence on the part of someone – often another driver. Here are seven leading causes of car accidents:
1. Distracted driving
Driving while distracted, which includes texting, talking on a cellphone or eating behind the wheel, is a serious issue. Distracted driving is blamed for 3,200 deaths and 424,000 injuries in a typical year, according to NHTSA. This represents 10 percent of all fatal crashes, 18 percent of crashes with injuries and 16 percent of all crashes.
2. Drunk driving
Everyone knows drunk driving is a bad idea, but some people do it anyway. In 2013, 335 people died in drunk driving accidents in South Carolina, representing 44 percent of traffic deaths in the state, according to NHTSA. In the entire country, 10,076 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for 31 percent of overall car accident fatalities.
3. Reckless driving
Driving recklessly, including excessive speeding and aggressive maneuvers such as sudden braking, weaving in and out of traffic and road rage, can easily cause a car accident. Speeding is particularly dangerous, with 306 deaths in South Carolina and 9,613 deaths across the country attributed to speeding-related crashes in just one year, according to NHTSA. The government estimates the annual economic cost of speeding-related crashes at $40.4 billion.
4. Driver fatigue
Driving while drowsy is a growing problem. A lack of alertness means inattention and slow reflexes behind the wheel, not to mention the danger of falling completely asleep. Studies from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s Traffic Safety Culture Index estimated 21 percent of fatal accidents involved a drowsy driver, and one-third of drivers in a recent survey admitted to falling asleep while driving.
Following another car too closely is a form of aggressive driving and is a leading cause of rear-end collisions – one of the most common types of car accidents and a major cause of injuries. It’s good practice to leave enough space, at least 2 to 3 seconds, between vehicles to allow enough time to brake or respond to a sudden change ahead. Bad weather and heavy traffic may require longer following distances.
6. Teen drivers
Young drivers are the least experienced and most immature drivers, and they have the most accidents. The crash rate per mile driven for teen drivers is three times that of drivers age 20 and older, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which also reported 2,524 teenagers died in car accidents in 2013.
7. Failure to yield right-of-way
Unsafe or aggressive lane changes, running a red light and running a stop sign or coming to a “rolling stop” are all against the law and can lead to accidents. Almost half of accidents involving running a red light result in injuries.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident in South Carolina, it’s important to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. If someone else’s negligence caused the crash, you may be entitled to significant compensation for your serious injuries.
- NHTSA – 2013 Crash Overview
- NHTSA – Traffic Safety Performance Measures for South Carolina
- IIHS – Teenagers: Driving carries extra risk for them
- NHTSA – Quick Facts 2013
- AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety – More than One-in-Five Fatal Crashes Involve Drowsy Drivers