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Causes of Car Accidents

Maryland Attorneys Discuss Causes of Auto Accidents

Common Causes of Car Crashes

The most common cause of auto collisions is human error—inattention and bad choices behind the wheel. Studies consistently show that well over 90% of all car crashes could have been avoided if the people involved had taken a little more care. In fact, a 2006 joint study by Virginia Tech and the Auto Club concluded that driver inattention was the leading factor in most crashes and near-misses they studied. The top driver distractions the study found included eating, using a mobile phone or another device, “rubbernecking,” looking for something inside the vehicle, personal grooming, and even reading while driving. The scientists found that looking away from the road for more than two seconds doubled drivers’ chances of a crash. Driving while sleepy increased the risk by four to six times.

Drunk Drivers

Despite decades of public education efforts, driving under the influence of alcohol also remains a common cause of collisions. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that at least one driver was legally drunk (with a BAC of 0.08 or higher) in 32% of fatal accidents in 2007. On average, this is one alcohol-impaired traffic death every 40 minutes in the United States—and 33.4% of those killed are people other than the drunk driver. Those numbers are even higher after 9 p.m. and for younger drivers. Driving drunk is also associated with a greater risk of unsafe behaviors like speeding, driving without a valid license and failing to use a seatbelt.

Vehicle Defects

Accidents caused by defects in a vehicle are less common, but they do happen. Drivers of Ford vehicles may remember the Bridgestone/Firestone tire recall of 2000, in which 3.5 million tires were recalled due to their unusually high rate of tire tread separation and blowouts. This could cause serious rollover crashes, especially when the tires failed at high speed, leading to an estimated 250 deaths and 3,000 serious injuries. Parents of small children may remember the more recent recalls of child safety car seats that exposed their tiny occupants to serious injuries. Other cars and auto parts have been recalled because of seatbelt failure, defective airbags, door latch problems, and incorrect placement of fuel tanks, which can lead to an explosion after a rear-end accident.

Road Defects

Roadway defects are another small but serious cause of car accidents. Roads can be defective and unsafe by design, or shoddy maintenance might lead to roadway defects. For example, a road that's curve obscures drivers’ view of oncoming traffic and an intersection without a traffic signal may both be considered defective by design. Defective road maintenance could mean unsafe cracks in the road, failure to salt the road after a snow storm, or even failure to trim trees that obscure the view of important road signs. In either case, the organization potentially at fault is the government agency—local, state, or federal—responsible for building and maintaining the road.

Who Is Responsible?

Responsibility matters a great deal after a serious car crash, because the person who’s at fault—or his or her insurance company—is legally responsible for any costs and damages that result. Unfortunately, because auto collisions can be very expensive, many insurance companies deny their liability or even try to blame victims of serious accidents for their own injuries in order to get out of paying. If you’ve been hurt in a serious collision caused by someone else’s carelessness, Alpert Schreyer Poe, LLC is ready to fight for your rights. In a vehicle accident lawsuit, you could win compensation for all of your injuries—physical, financial, and emotional.

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