Accidents Page 1
- Traffic accidents are consistently one of the top
5 causes of death in the United States. Although some accidents
are unavoidable, the sad truth is that thousands of lives would be saved
each year if drivers were aware of the physical, psychological, and road and
weather conditions which increase accident risk, and took defensive steps
to insure safe driving.
- There are between 450,000 and 500,000
traffic accidents reported annually in California alone. About 60%
of these accidents involve property damage only, 39% involve injury to a
passenger, driver, or pedestrian, and about 1% result in death.
- One person is killed every 2 1/2 hours in
California, and one person is injured every 2 minutes, as the result of a
- Although drivers under 30 years of age account
for only about 23% of licensed drivers, they comprise about 35% of all
drivers in fatal and injury collisions.
- Teenage drivers have total
accidents rates which are 4 times that of adult drivers. Traffic
accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers.
- There are a number of physical conditions which
can affect safe driving. Physical conditions which can lead to
accidents include poor vision, poor hearing, illness, and fatigue.
- Good vision is important for safe driving and
avoiding accidents. You need to have good visual acuity,
peripheral vision, depth perception, and glare resistance and recovery to drive safely.
Good vision allows you to identify potential hazards and react more
quickly. You should have your vision checked and wear prescription
lenses, as necessary, to compensate for visual deficiency. You also
need to keep your view unobstructed by not hanging things from
your mirrors, or otherwise blocking your windows, and keeping your
windows and mirrors clean.
- A number of accidents are caused by not checking
blind spots. Make sure to turn your head before merging into a
lane. or before making a turn.
- Good hearing is also necessary for safe driving
and avoiding accidents. Your hearing can warn you of danger, such
as the presence of vehicles in your blind spots. Make sure to have
your hearing checked periodically. You should also keep your radio
turned down. It is illegal to wear dual headphones while driving. Driving with at least one of your side windows open will allow you
to hear what is going on outside of your vehicle.
Driving Behavior Leading To Accidents
- Some of the more common driver behaviors which
lead to accidents include driving too fast, tailgating,
inattentiveness, poor visual scanning, making poor decisions, improper
lane changes, unsafe passing, failing to yield the right-of-way, or not
being able to handle your vehicle in an emergency situation. Included in the list of common behaviors contributing to auto accidents
are unsafe speed, failing to obey stop signs and signals, as well as
driving on the wrong side of the road. Speeding is the primary
collision factor for about 28% of all fatal and injury accidents.
- The faster you drive, the less time you
have to react to road hazards, the longer it takes for you to stop your
vehicle, and the greater the impact and injuries will be if you have an
accident. As discussed before, the basic speed law in California
states that no person shall drive at a speed greater than is reasonable
or prudent for weather and road conditions, and in no event at a speed which
endangers the safety of persons or property. The key to avoiding
accidents caused by unsafe speed is obvious. Slow down. Be aware
of the posted speed limits around you, the road conditions, and the
weather, and adjust your speed accordingly.
- Failure to yield the right-of-way to another
vehicle or pedestrian is the primary collision factor in about 20% of
fatal crashes and crashes that cause injuries. Never assume that
the other driver will yield the right-of-way to you, and you should
never insist on taking the right-of-way, especially if it will help
prevent an accident. Keep in mind that not everyone knows and
understands right-of-way laws, and even if they do, they may not obey
them. In either case, always be prepared, and expect other drivers to
- If you are in a hurry, or emotionally distressed,
it's easy to demand that everyone yield the right-of-way to you. This is an unhealthy attitude, and can lead to a serious accident. Common courtesy and a non-assuming attitude are keys to avoiding
- About 9% of fatal and injury accidents in
California are caused by improper lane changes. Illegal
left, right, or u-turns are also dangerous. When signs and road
markings prohibits these turns, it is for your safety. Failure to
obey posted signs can result in serious or fatal accidents.
- When making left turns be particularly cautious.
Always yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the same road, coming
from the opposite direction, that are close enough to be dangerous and
pose a hazard. Never turn in front of a car coming right at you! Turn only when you can see that it is safe, and always check for
motorcyclists and bicyclists. Be careful when you're on a divided
highway, or roadways with several lanes. When making a left turn
on those roads, watch out for vehicles coming toward you in any lane that you
must cross to make your turn.
- Failing to come to a complete stop, or not obeying
traffic signals, is also a primary collision factor in California,
contributing to about 9% of fatal and injury accidents. Stop signs and red lights mean stop. It is safest to stop your
vehicle behind the limit line, or crosswalk, or before the intersection
if no limit line is marked. Every time you stop, you should feel your body pull slightly forward and then backwards. If
you do not feel yourself move backwards against your seat, you have not
- Intersections are the most common place where
accidents occur in urban areas. Because vehicles moving in
different directions meet at intersections, and because
pedestrians are often present, they are very dangerous. Remember
that you should stop at yellow signal lights if it is safe to do so.
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