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Common Causes of Car Accidents: Driver Behavior (Part IV)

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

When car accidents happen, people tend to look for excuses to what caused the accident. While factors such as equipment failure, roadway design, and poor road maintenance may contribute to accidents, most accidents occur due to driver behavior.

To err is human, but sometimes those errors are so egregious that they rise to the level of negligence -- negligence that may cause serious injury or even death to other motorists on the road. Distracted drivers, speeding drivers and aggressive drivers often cause accidents.

Distracted driving. Thanks to the rise of cell phones and smart phones that allow texting and emailing from anywhere, distracting driving in the United States has almost grown to epidemic proportions. Drivers may be distracted by a spilled cup of coffee or as they change the radio station in their car -- and these distractions may lead to innocent mistakes. But drivers that use handheld devices to talk, text and email while driving are breaking the law in many states and willfully so. Such driver behavior is negligent, and if texting while driving causes a distracted driving accident, these drivers are often found at fault.

Excessive speeds. The risk of being in a car accident increases with speed. And the risk of a high-speed accident causing severe injuries or even death increases as well. Yet, despite well known risks, over 75 percent of drivers admit to speeding on a regular basis. While most would agree that excessive speeds, like traveling 100 mph in a 65 mph zone, is foolish, driving only 70 mph in a 65 mph zone can be just as dangerous. Speed limits are determined by traffic engineers who have determined the fastest a vehicle can travel safely on a given roadway. Exceeding that speed, by even a few miles, can prove dangerous given the way the road is designed, because the faster you travel, the longer it takes to bring the car to a stop and to react to road and traffic conditions.

Aggressive driving. Law enforcement officials characterize aggressive drivers as those who travel at excessive speeds, frequently change lanes, fail to properly signal or yield the right of way, tailgate, and often make rude gestures. These practices can also lead to car accidents, as these drivers tend to act a bit rashly. Be aware of these aggressive driving tendencies and try to steer clear of these drivers, if at all possible.

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

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