There are almost six million car accidents every year. As fall and winter weather rolls in and with them inclement weather and shortened daylight hours, here are some essential things to keep in mind about the causes of car accidents, how to avoid them, how to prepare for them, and what to do in the event that you experience one nonetheless.
According to statistics, 23% of all vehicle crashes — which translates to about 1.3 million per year — are related to weather conditions. In addition to the fact that wet weather seasons also have shortened daylight hours, which decreases visibility, wet pavement is one of the most common culprits when it comes to automotive accidents. Snow, sleet, hail, and rain all reduce friction on road surfaces and make accidents more likely to happen.
What causes more accidents than weather? Human error. In fact, fully 95% of all vehicle crashes are due to human error. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding is the more prominent factor in 30% of all deadly crashes. Speeding and other behaviors like driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, texting, and talking on the phone while driving can also contribute to human error in an auto accident.
How to Avoid an Accident
- Do not drive while sleepy, distracted, or after taking certain medications.
- Never tailgate other cars, and drive defensively in case other drivers are not paying attention.
- Always go the speed limit and wear your seatbelt.
- Avoiding driving in inclement weather and if you have to, adjust your speed to a safe level, even if that is below the posted speed limit.
How to Prepare for an Accident
- Make sure that your vehicle always has an adequate level of fuel.
- Always have a cell phone with you to call for help should the need arise.
- Keep emergency supplies in your vehicle such as a flashlight, water, warm clothes and boots, a blanket, and non-perishable snacks, like granola bars.
If you are involved in an accident, make sure that you contact the proper authorities, including law enforcement and emergency personnel. These people will be able to help identify and gauge fault in regard to the accident. You should also make sure to document as much of the scene as you can — take pictures of damages, the vehicles involved in the collision, location of signs and signals, debris, skidmarks, and any other relevant evidence. In car accident cases, the plaintiff has to be able to provide evidence of damages and that the other driver was at fault.