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The Most Common Causes of Car Accidents

Car crashes are often more than just an inconvenience. They can put you off the road for weeks, or even months, while your vehicle gets repaired or you recover from injuries. Accidents are usually costly, and even insurance excesses can drain your savings.

While you cannot always avoid a collision, there are certain behaviours or actions that make an accident more likely. The top causes of car crashes in Australia are:

  • Tailgating
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Speeding
  • Driving while distracted
  • Driving while fatigued.

Below, we explore each factor in more depth.

Does tailgating cause accidents?

Many collisions, particularly nose-to-tail, are caused by tailgating. So what is tailgating? It is simply when a vehicle is too close to the vehicle in front. This causes crashes because:

  • The cars are too close to stop in case of an emergency
  • The car behind may not have adequate visibility of the road in front of the car ahead
  • The car behind may not notice the car in front slowing down and fail to match the action.

To avoid accidents caused by following too closely, make sure to leave a generous amount of space between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Many people recommend abiding by the “3-second” rule, where your car should be 3 seconds behind while in motion to allow enough space to stop or slow down without warning.

Why you shouldn’t drink and drive

Unfortunately, alcohol is still a factor in many crashes, and studies have it listed as a common contributor to fatal collisions. It is well-known that it is against the law to drive while under the influence of alcohol, and to be caught doing so carries heavy penalties.

Current laws in Queensland state that drivers on their provisional licences must have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.00 when operating a car, while open licence holders must have a concentration below 0.05 to drive their car. However, drivers operating a truck, bus, articulated vehicle, taxi or limo, tow truck, or a specially constructed vehicle like a tractor must have a BAC of 0.00.

Alcohol has a range of negative effects on people, many of which contribute to making them unable to drive a vehicle in a safe way. These effects can include:

  • Impaired vision
  • Impaired reflexes and coordination
  • Impaired judgement and risk assessment.

All of these can have a significant impact on your ability to make snap decisions and avoid hazards on the road.

Speeding is a common factor in serious crashes

Despite many government attempts to curb this dangerous behaviour, speeding is still a problem all around the country. Contributing to around 40% of road fatalities, speeding increases the risk of losing control of your vehicle as well as making it more difficult to avoid a hazard.

Going 100km/hr, an average car can take more than 40 metres to come to a halt – and that’s assuming you recognise the danger promptly and react immediately.

Speed limits are in place for a reason: they reflect the likelihood and nature of potential hazards. The couple of minutes you may save speeding are not worth the risk to yourself and to others.

Driving distracted is dangerous

You can only react to a change in the road conditions once you have seen and processed them. Distractions like mobile phones, helping children in the back seat, or looking at your passenger are all risky when it comes to driving. When things can change in a matter of moments, losing precious reaction time because your eyes were on a screen or looking for a snack can be critical.

Distracted driving isn’t just dangerous at high speeds, either. It is just as easy to be caught out in congested traffic. No one needs to start or end their work day with a call to their insurance provider or legal team! Put the phone down, pull over to help your children, and tell your passenger you need to concentrate.

Be aware of driving while fatigued

The Stop, Revive, Survive campaign was introduced for a reason – fatigue is serious when you are behind the wheel. Studies have shown that moderate sleep deprivation can impair your driving ability more than being drunk, which entails:

  • Erratic driving
  • Difficulty making fast, safe decisions
  • Slower reaction times (as mentioned in previous paragraphs, seconds are often critical when operating a vehicle).

If possible, avoid driving when your body or mind is tired or fatigued. When you drive long distances, plan out stops before you travel, and let your eyes and mind rest and recover as often as you can.

Car accidents can be traumatic, disruptive and costly. While avoiding crashes completely cannot be guaranteed, by understanding the common causes and how to minimise the risk they present, you can take positive action to stay safe on the road.

If you’ve been in a car accident and are wondering what to do next, check out our blog, where we have articles discussing many different aspects of crashes like towing and storage. If you have any questions about compensation for injuries or damage done to your vehicle, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team of legal experts.

 

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