Classic Collision spends a lot of time writing articles about accidents and collisions with the focus on helping you be more aware of how to prevent one from happening to you.  You might think that’s ‘wrong way marketing’. That it would reduce the amount of business for our industry. In the U.S. alone there are 6 million reported accidents every year.  Divide that by 50 states and on average each state experiences about 120,000 reported accidents each year. Half of all accidents cause injuries to humans (that’s 3,000,000!).   More than 90 people die in car accidents every day. The last statistic we will share is that around 2,000,000 drivers in car accidents experience permanent injuries every year.  Think about the healthcare costs, time missed at work and the changed quality of life. That’s why we write articles like this one. Yes we want customers but we also want to help save lives.  Please read this article and ask yourself if you could make different choices to improve your safety driving record.

While accidents can be caused by any number of things, there are about 17 main reasons accidents happen.  We are focusing on the top seven but will list the ‘lesser 10’ to help you do a thorough evaluation of your driving habits and increase awareness.  

A blue car and a black car in an accident and the drivers discussing it.

DISTRACTED DRIVING

When you are behind the wheel of a vehicle you are in charge of a very powerful machine.  And when you drive you have to make constant decisions that involve processing information (road signs, weather, other cars, pedestrians, etc.).  You are distracted when you splinter your attention. It’s that simple. What causes us to be distracted? The main culprits are cell phones, food and loose pets in the car.  Music and activities in the car can also be distracting and should be kept at a minimum. Everyone knows that driving hands free is much safer than holding a phone in one hand but the safest option is to activate the Do Not Disturb option which lets callers know you are choosing to not answer the call because you are driving.  

What about family pets?  An unsecured pet becomes a projectile upon impact.  Even a car going only 35 mph carrying a 60 lb. dog has a 2,700 lb. projectile when an accident happens.  That kind of a force inside the car could easily kill a human and it goes without saying the poor animal suffers greatly.  You have options to keep your animals safe. Some car manufacturers offer dividers that can be bolted inside the car to keep animals in the boot area, away from passengers.  This is ok but you should consider a crate or a harness to secure the pet and prevent injury. You can go to the Center for Pet Safety to read test results and see which products have been certified.

Eating while driving, even snacking takes at least one hand from the wheel.  The best choice is to eat before or after driving or take breaks and eat while not driving.  If there is another driver in the vehicle, change drivers.

A man and woman and their dog sitting in the boot of their SUV.

SPEEDING

Many drivers ignore the limits.  They think the limit is too low or doesn’t apply to them so they push it and drive faster.  Know that studies are done with safety in mind, to keep a range of drivers (ages and abilities) safe at all times.  The faster the car moves the shorter the distance the driver has to react.

DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE

We have chosen to use the word influence because it covers a variety of products that alter your ability to focus and function at an optimal level.  Some of the influencers are alcohol, drugs/medications (legal and illegal), caffeine and lack of sleep. To prevent an accident you need to be aware of your choices and their impact on your body and plan accordingly.  Once again you have options. You can stay home, find another driver (friend, UBER or Lyft) or delay using/taking a substance that you know alters your abilities.

A car driving in a rainstorm with blurry windshield in traffic.

RED LIGHTS & STOP SIGNS

Have you ever heard someone say, ‘Oh that light was orange’ as they sped through an intersection?  That expression refers to the time between a yellow light, which means try to stop if at all possible, and a red light, which means you no longer have the right of way.  Drivers who go through red lights feel entitled to be in the intersection and proceed. In the split second of their decision they most likely do not take the time to look left and right and assess cross traffic.  Instead they push on the gas pedal and go for it. This is extremely risky behavior, but one that can be changed.

Stop signs have a distinct purpose.  They tell you to come to a complete stop, assess cross traffic and proceed when safe to do so.  Way too many drivers slow up, depress the brake pedal and then proceed through or turn the corner.  Once again this is risky behavior, its breaking the law and you have the ability to change your decision.

RAIN/SNOW

We have written articles on the effect weather has on the ability of a car to perform at its optimal level but it also affects the driver’s ability to keep the vehicle safe.  Precipitation creates a slick and dangerous surface on the road which means drivers need to make adjustments in their speed of travel and following distance. Many drivers do not make adjustments and cause unnecessary accidents.  We recommend evaluating the need to travel during inclement weather and, if you do, take extra precautions while driving.

A red traffic signal light with blue sky background.

RECKLESS DRIVING

There is never a good reason to operate your vehicle in a reckless manner.  Yet we see it almost every day. Tailgating and changing lanes quickly (lane hopping instead of going with the flow of traffic) are examples of reckless driving.  Both of these choices can cause cars around you to over react and cause an accident. They are risky behaviors because you are not keeping a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you which diminishes the time you need to safely react to changes in traffic flow. 

This category could also include doing the zip merge from a center lane to an exit lane which causes vehicles behind you to slow or stop so your car can get into the lane at the last minute.  A safe zip merge can only occur when two lanes of traffic are traveling at the same speed and simply take turns merging.

ROAD RAGE

Guess what?  Road rage is one of the leading reasons accidents happen every year!  It may happen through intentionally dangerous driving acts, such as braking suddenly in front of another car, pulling up right on another driver’s bumper or even trying to tap the other driver’s bumper.  Angry drivers tend to make impulsive decisions that cause accidents, often times multiple car accidents that would be totally preventable. The best thing you can do to avoid causing one of this type of accident is to be mindful of how you are reacting to a situation and know that you always have a choice to get off the road or stop driving by taking a break or changing drivers.

A blue car damaged in an accident.

The above categories are the main cause of automobile accidents. That means the majority of the 6 million accidents each year in the U.S.  Here are 10 more to keep in mind

  1. Teenage drivers – lack of experience
  2. Night driving – shortens your ability to see what’s ahead
  3. Wrong way driving – misreading road signs 
  4. Wild animals – crossing the road right in front of you
  5. Design defects – find out the safety stats on a car before you buy it
  6. Potholes – can cause you to lose control or blow a tire
  7. Deadly curves – exceeding the speed limit and misjudging the curve
  8. Tire blowouts – try to safely get off the road while maintaining control of the car
  9. Drowsy driving – being tired inhibits your ability to make good driving decisions
  10. Street racing – public roadways are not the place for this activity

As always we hope this article helps you stay safe on the roads.  However, if you are traveling in the south eastern U.S. and happen to get into an accident we would welcome the opportunity to help repair your vehicle.  We have certified auto body shops in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and S. Carolina.