Picture this: You’re behind the wheel, easily navigating the bustling streets—it’s a powerful feeling, isn’t it?
But with that power comes immense responsibility, not just for your safety and your passengers’ but for everyone else on the road, including pedestrians. When you slip into the driver’s seat, you become the arbiter of safety for countless individuals sharing the road with you.
Unfortunately, many cannot handle this responsibility, leading to car accidents. It’s easy to point fingers at technical malfunctions or adverse weather conditions, but human behavior is partially to blame for most traffic incidents.
This infographic aims to make the road safer for everyone by highlighting the human elements behind road traffic accidents.
Behavioral Causes of Car Accidents: 5 Fast Facts
Understanding the root causes of car accidents in the pursuit of safer roads is critical. Behavior behind the wheel, or the lack thereof, often takes the spotlight. These five facts outline the state of US roads and how human behavior is pivotal in staying safe.
- Over 5.25 million collisions occurred in the United States in 2020
In 2020, the United States witnessed a staggering 5.25 million reported crashes, implying a significant financial burden in insurance costs, property damage, and emergency services. These accidents place an immense strain on government and personal resources.
- 31% of those car accidents lead to injury or death
Nearly a third of the 5.25 million collisions led to injury or death. This sobering statistic is a chilling reminder of the profound human toll that road accidents can exact—that the most significant cost is the lives disrupted and tragically lost due to injuries or fatalities.
For those facing such unfortunate circumstances, hiring a personal injury lawyer is essential for seeking justice and support in the aftermath of a car accident.
- Driving under the influence (30%), speeding (29%), seatbelt nonuse (28%), and distracted driving (8%) were the four leading causes of car accident fatalities in 2020
Car accident fatality statistics reveal a troubling trend: the four leading causes share the common root cause of human behavior. These figures underscore the critical role of people’s actions in road safety and the potentially devastating consequences of risky choices before getting in or once behind the wheel.
- Handheld electronic device use while driving has more than doubled from 1.5% in 2012 to 3.4% in 2021
The sharp increase in drivers using smartphones or other gadgets, from 1.5% in 2012 to 3.4% in 2021, reflects a concerning trend in distracted driving behavior. Despite increased awareness campaigns and stricter regulations, many drivers are still getting distracted by their devices.
- Car accident fatalities occur more often during weekends and holidays and at night
Data shows that car accident fatalities are more prevalent during weekends, holidays, and nighttime, underscoring the heightened risks associated with these periods. Weekends often witness increased recreational and social activities due to the rest from a week of work or school, potentially leading to more drivers likely driving under the influence (DUI).
Holidays mean celebrations and long-distance travel that can cause fatigue, distracted driving, and DUIs. The nighttime factor typically adds lower visibility and impaired reaction times to the mix. These high-risk times demand more vigilant and responsible driving to reduce accidents and save lives.
6 Common Risk Factors of Road Accidents
These risk factors encompass a range of elements, from driver demographics to personal habits, all of which play a significant role in road safety.
Teenagers and young adults are more prone to accidents than any other age group. Accidents involving young drivers may stem from inexperience, impulsivity, and susceptibility to peer pressure.
Fatigue impairs concentration and reaction time. Tired drivers have a more difficult time staying alert enough to avoid accidents. Long hours on the road and sleep deprivation are a dangerous combination.
3. Drugs and alcohol
The most commonly practiced and dangerous driving behavior is the consumption of drugs and alcohol before or during a drive. Substance impairment significantly affects a driver’s judgment, coordination, and reaction time. This risk factor is the most frequent cause of car accident fatalities in the US for a reason.
4. Handheld electronics
Using smartphones or other handheld devices while driving diverts attention from the road and is a dangerous distraction. Even having mobile notifications pop up in your peripheral vision can cause you to lose focus for a split second, and that’s enough time to make a fatal error.
Excessive speeds reduce a driver’s ability to react to unexpected situations. Statisticians and experts design speed limits to maximize the safety of everyone on the road. Inclement weather can also affect road conditions, so it’s best to slow down during heavy rain, fog, and snow.
6. Running stop lights and signs
The flow of traffic relies on traffic signals to remain smooth and accident-free. Neglecting or not recognizing stoplights and signs introduces chaos into the otherwise orderly progression of traffic, creating the perfect environment for accidents.
5 Human Factors that Affect Driver Behavior
Driving is a complex web of action and reaction. Human factors affect the decisions people make behind the wheel. Recognizing and addressing these behavioral challenges is crucial for safer roads and fewer accidents.
Experienced drivers use their familiarity with the vehicle, the road, and other drivers to make split-second decisions, maneuver the car correctly, and avoid dangerous situations. Novice drivers lack this knowledge base and may panic in high-pressure situations. The stress of real-world traffic can sometimes overshadow their practice, leading to mistakes that cause accidents.
2. Recklessness and thrill-seeking
Movies and other media have romanticized moving fast and weaving through traffic, but reality carries much harsher consequences. Drivers seeking the thrill of the road undertake risky behaviors, often to impress passengers. These actions can cause them to lose control of their vehicle, putting themselves and others at risk.
3. Personality traits
Personality traits like impulsivity, overconfidence, and impatience can manifest on the road and push drivers to take unnecessary risks, such as aggressive passing or tailgating. Recognizing these traits within oneself is the first step in curbing potentially dangerous driving habits.
Intense emotions, particularly anger, can cloud a driver’s judgment and lead to tunnel vision. Emotional turbulence may also result in aggressive actions, including road rage, significantly increasing the risk of accidents. Drivers must manage their emotions effectively while on the road.
5. Peer pressure
Passengers can influence a driver’s behavior. They may encourage risky behavior or inadvertently distract the driver with movement or noise, diverting their attention from the road. While having passengers can be fun, drivers must remain vigilant and prioritize safety to prevent accidents.
Charting the Course to Safer Roads
There can be dozens or hundreds of factors influencing driver behavior. According to statistics, human behavior is the foremost cause of road traffic accidents. Our choices before getting into the car and when behind the wheel can affect our lives and that of others.
If all drivers take the time to learn the significance of the human element and its influence on risk factors, we can collectively reduce accidents and save lives.
If you’ve been hurt in a car accident and need a personal injury attorney to handle your case, reach out to us at RMD Law. Our team of experienced car accident lawyers in Orange County is ready for the tireless representation you deserve.
Contact us for a free case evaluation today.