5 Common Causes of Car Accidents – and How to Avoid Them

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Automobile accidents happen every day. To help avoid being involved in one, it is important to understand some common causes of accidents and strategies to avoid them. Below is a list of five common causes of car accidents and some tips that every driver can follow to help avoid them.

Rear-Enders

Rear-ending results when one car collides into the back of car in front of it — and, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, this type of crash accounts for 29 percent of all accidents.The NHTSA found in a 2007 study that drivers involved in rear-end crashes were “routinely engaged in activities that divert their attention from the forward roadway while driving,” and 64 percent of those involved in rear-end crashes were not looking at the road at the time of the crash. When drivers try to smash a bug on the windshield, talk on their cellphone, or play with the radio, they take their eyes off the road, which is a big mistake.

To help avoid rear-ending another vehicle because of inattention, always pay attention to your surroundings, particularly the street and other vehicles. Make sure your cell phone is safely put away and focus your attention to the road and your speed.

Hitting a Parked Car

Collisions can even happen to your car while it is parked. As a driver, you can avoid this type of collision by remaining aware of your surroundings and the size of the vehicle you are driving. Make sure to look behind you when reversing and don’t rely solely on rearview mirrors or backup cameras.

When parking your car, don’t park too close to other vehicles, so that they have room to back out without side-swiping your car or giving you a door ding. Remember, if you had a hard time getting into a spot, other drivers will have a hard time getting out. It is better to park a bit further away and walk than to deal with car damage.

Hydroplaning

When you drive through standing water, your tires have to push the water out of the way to maintain contact with the road. The tread of the tire gives a path for the water to be channeled away from the contact area of the tire. If the car’s speed increases to the point where the water cannot be pushed out of the way quickly enough, a thin layer of water will remain between the tires and the road surface, resulting in the driver losing control of the vehicle – also known as hydroplaning. When you hydroplane, you have no control over the car’s direction. Because the car is not in contact with the road, turning the wheel left or right has no effect on direction, and hitting the brakes actually increases the hydroplaning, since a stationary tire acts more like a water ski than one that is turning.

To avoid hydroplaning, drive a bit more slowly during and right after rain storms, especially in areas where water accumulates. Slowing down makes it easier for the tires to connect with the ground.  You should also regularly check your tire’s treads to make sure they aren’t worn down. If you do find yourself in a hydroplane situation, the best thing to do is stop accelerating. Avoid stomping on your brakes. Instead, apply steady pressure to the brakes and allow the car to coast down to a slower speed.

Animal Collision

Drivers may be required to know the rules of the roadway, but wild animals don’t always follow them. Depending on the size of the animal, a collision with your car can cause serious vehicle damage, resulting in body damage or broken windows. Take caution when you see an animal crossing sign and use your high beams at night when traveling in rural areas.  Make sure to follow the speed limit to ensure that you are able to slow down in time if one darts out into the road.

Side-Impact Crashes

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in 2009, side-impact crashes accounted for 27 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths in the U.S. These types of collisions include “T-bone” crashes, which occur when one driver fails to stop and collides with the vehicle that has the right of way. These types of accidents are especially dangerous because the sides of vehicles have less space to absorb energy and shield passengers.

To avoid these dangerous crashes, be sure to follow the typical rules of the road: Look both ways for oncoming cars when you have the right of way and make sure to stop at red lights and stop signs. Follow posted speed limits to make sure that you will have adequate time to stop for a changing light.

To protect yourself and any passengers from injury in a “T-bone” collision, consider purchasing a car that comes standard with head-protecting side airbags. In crash tests, the IIHS found that side airbags that protect the head can help prevent fatalities in side-impact crashes.

Understanding the causes of these common car accidents and how to prevent them can help keep you safe. By following these easy recommendations, you can help reduce your chances of being involved in one of these common accidents and ensure a safer road for all.

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