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Common Causes of Car Accidents: Equipment Failure (Part I)

This post is the first in a series of posts on the four most common factors that contribute to motor vehicle accidents.

Everyone has heard the adage, accidents happen. And it's true. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over two million people end up in the hospital each year due to motor vehicle accidents.

In the United States, over 95 percent of those car accidents are usually caused by a driver's behavior plus other contributing factors. Common contributing factors in many accidents include equipment failure, roadway design and inadequate roadway upkeep.

By law, manufacturers are required to design and produce cars that meet certain safety standards. But at times one component of the design or part of the car may fail, causing equipment failure. While just about any part of a motor vehicle can fail, the three most common types of equipment failure are issues with tires, such as a blowout or tread separation, brake failure and failure of steering and/or suspension.

Tire Defects. Problems with tires can be a result of defective product manufacturing, but absent a specific defect, improper maintenance of tires can also lead to accidents. It is important to keep tires properly inflated and balanced.

Brake Failure. With technological advances, one would certainly think it impossible for brakes to fail. The good news is that they rarely do, thanks to dual-circuit brake systems and anti-lock brakes. However, problems with brake and gas pedals can still occur -- as seen by Toyota's unintended acceleration issues last year.

Steering and Suspension Issues. Steering is what enables a driver to maneuver the car to avoid obstacles in the road. Suspension is what keeps a car's tires in contact with the road. Failure of either one of these items can prove catastrophic, because without these systems the driver maintains virtually no control over the car.

Some equipment failures can be prevented by having your motor vehicle regularly serviced. The general rule of thumb is having your car checked twice a year. It is recommended that tires should be checked every 5,000 miles for balancing purposes, suspension and steering systems checked every 10,000 miles and brakes checked every 15,000 miles.

To read more on the causes of car accidents, check out an upcoming post on roadway design.

Source: SmartMotorist.com, "What Causes Car Accidents?"

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