Car Accidents | Here’s Everything You Need to Know


Car Accidents are the last thing that you’d want in your life.

A report from World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that 1.35 million deaths occurred from traffic collisions in 2016. Most of these accidents involve two cars, but a huge number of casualties involve pedestrians and motorcyclists.

WHO Statistics on Car accidents related deaths
WHO Statistics on Car accidents related deaths

Car accidents, also known as Motor Vehicle Collisions (MVC), occur when a car collides with

  • A moving object i.e. another car, animal, pedestrian, etc.  or
  • A stationary object like a tree, road debris, pole, house, building, etc.

Five Types of Car Accidents

There are five types of Car Accidents. Let’s see one by one.

1. Head-on collision

This collision is not very common but is the cause of most fatal accidents. Head-on collision happens when a driver moves in the wrong direction on a one-way street or when they cross the median on a highway.

2. Rear-end collision

Rear-end collisions occur at lower speeds and are less damaging. In most cases, the driver at the back is at fault for not leaving adequate stopping distance.

3. Side collision

Road intersections are the riskiest spots for a side collision to take place. Passengers in the vehicle can suffer serious injuries as the side of a car has less structural protection.

4. Roll over

In a rollover, a car tips over onto its roof or side. Rollovers have a higher fatality rate as compared to other types of car accidents.

5. Road Departure (or Run-off-road collision)

Roadway departure occurs when a vehicle diverts from the roadway intentionally or unintentionally. This can happen when driver is attempting to avoid collision with another road user or an animal when he loses control on a curve.

Also, some automobile accidents may involve multiple vehicles creating a kind of domino effect involving more than one type of accident listed above.

Emergency Helpline Numbers

Vehicle accidents can occur at any time and at any place. Hence, it is always advised to have emergency numbers handy no matter where you are.

These emergency helpline numbers are short (mostly three-digit numbers) so that they are easy to remember.

For your assistance, we have created a tool that can help you get police, ambulance, and other necessary country-specific emergency numbers. All you need to do is enter country name in our Worldwide Emergency numbers tool and get all relevant emergency numbers that you need.

Check it here now!

Cause of Car Accidents

There are 4 core reasons that lead to road accidents.

  1. Human Errors
  2. Road Design Defects
  3. Poor Vehicle Design and Lack of Maintenance
  4. Other Factors

Lets have a look at these one by one.

Top 20 Human Errors that cause Car Accidents

1. Not Maintaining Vehicle Speed

The risk of a car crash increases both for vehicles traveling slower than the recommended speed, as well as for those traveling above it.

The severity of a car collision depends a lot on vehicle speed. If you increase the speed of your car by 1 km/h, then this increases the risk of car crash injuries by 3% and fatalities by 5%.

If a car gets involved in a collision with an impact speed of 80 km/h, the likelihood of death is 20 times more as compared to an impact speed of 30 km/h.

2. Neglecting Minimum Clear Distance

Another cause of vehicle accident is driving faster than you can control. The higher the speed of a vehicle, the shorter the distance and time a driver needs to apply brakes and avoid a collision.

Many drivers drive recklessly very close to car ahead of them. This makes it impossible to react in time if that car stops all of a sudden.

It’s a simple math that vehicle travelling at 40 km/h will stop in less than 8.5 metres. But if the driver increases the speed by 10 km/hr, he will require 13 metres to stop.

3. Impatient Driving

Reckless driving may end up in a major car accident. Its advised to be patient while driving as careless speeding, changing lanes too quickly or tailgating can cause unnecessary damage.

Even if you are a responsible driver, extra care should be taken around aggressive drivers that are impatient in traffic.

4. Street Racing

Car racing movies and games can have a negative influence, especially on millennials. They want their cars to be upgraded with turbo engines and nitrous oxide boosters.

Even if they don’t get these upgrades, they end up street racing and reach very high speeds, that increases the risk of car accident that is much more dangerous and unlikely to yield any survivor.

5. Wrong-Way Driving

Sometimes people take a right turn reaching the end of the road, when in reality, it is a one-way road in the opposite direction. These lapses in judgment when behind the steering can prove to be lethal. If you take a wrong path, everyone is in danger as you are headed towards an accident.

6. Running Stop Signs

Thousands of car accidents occur every year because of a single driver skipping a stop sign. Taking “stop signs” for granted can result in rollover accidents and side-impact car accidents. That’s why it’s always recommended to look both ways when proceeding through a stop sign.

7. Running Red Lights

The risk of car accident dramatically increases when a driver overruns a red light. This majorly leads to side-impact collisions at high speeds that may lead to irreparable damages, even death.

In order to avoid drivers that constantly overrun red lights, look both ways for incoming cars as you approach a green light.

8. Improper Turn

If you ignore the rules of the road and take improper turns, the probability of occurrence of accidents increases.

To prevent such reckless car accidents, always look for stop lights, turn signals, and lanes designated for moving either right or left and follow the right way to make a turn.

9. Road Rage

Some drivers become over aggressive and sometimes it’s their rage that drives the car. These drivers tailgate other cars in anger by speeding past them only to pull in front and apply brakes suddenly in order to stop them. This aggressive behaviour leads to severe car accidents.

Driver Impairment

Any reason that prevents the driver from driving at his normal skill level can be termed as driver impairment. Driver impairment can be caused by one or more of the following reasons: (from point 10 to 16)

10. Influence of Alcohol

Alcohol intake impacts your reflexes, which can delay your reaction time that is needed to respond quickly to changing circumstances.

It slows down the functioning of eye muscle and alters visual perception that leads to blurred vision. This decreases your ability to judge another vehicle’s position on the road and can prevent the ability to make rational choices.

11. Excessive Smoking

Excessive smoking is another issue that can cause hallucinations, thereby leading to accidents. Also, excessive smoke in car slashes the visibility, adversely affecting the judgement made while driving.

12. Physical Impairment

Poor eyesight and/or physical impairment can lead to dreadful accidents if not taken care of.  Simple sight tests and/or appropriate vehicle modifications needs to be ensured before taking yourself out on a ride.

13. Teenage Negligence

Youngsters aren’t known for their caution. When teenagers hit the street initially, they lack road sense but are full of energy. This combination makes it risky for not only them to drive but also others who are sharing the street with them.

14. Old Age Impairment

Certain locales require driver retesting for response speed and vision after a specific age.

15. Drowsy Driving

Driver fatigue isn’t discussed a lot. We can’t expect anybody to drive when they’re experiencing difficulty staying conscious. Most of the car accidents caused by drowsy driving occur at night.

In these events, if you feel like dozing off, pull over when it’s safe and try to take a quick 30-minute power nap.

16. Drug Use

It’s not just liquor that is hazardous. Drugs of all kind can impair your capacity to function efficiently. Your mind will not have control over your body, and getting in the driver’s seat can be lethal.

17. Distraction

Using a cell phone is the riskiest diversion, increasing a drivers’ chance of crashing by almost 12 times. Drivers distracted by cell phones had more risk of smashing their vehicles than those who were not.

Research suggests that the driver’s attention is affected by distracting sounds such as conversations and operating a cell phone while driving. Numerous jurisdictions now restrict or outlaw the use of certain kinds of a phone in the car.

18. Loud Music

Loud music could hamper the driver’s ability to hear audio cues around them such as alarms, horns or may even make them skip visual signs.

Loud music not only affects an individual’s hearing capability but also disturbs focus and concentration as this can force your brain to perform two different activities simultaneously.

Research has found that the human brain does not multitask, but when presented with two tasks, it shuffles rapidly between the two. This prevents it to completely stay focussed on one of the activities.

19. Intentional Accidents

Few car accidents are intentional in nature.

An accident may be caused by a driver who intends to commit suicide.

Mishaps may also be deliberately caused by individuals who want to make an insurance claim against the other driver. This might be staged as an insurance fraud.

Drivers may likely be involved in accidents as part of a deliberate effort to hurt other people, such as in a vehicle-ramming attack.

20. Combination of Factors

Above mentioned factors can combine and make a much more regrettable situation, for instance:

  • Combining low dosages of liquor and cannabis has a more extreme impact on driving than either cannabis or liquor in isolation, or
  • Taking suggested dosages of a few drugs together, may consolidate to bring sleepiness or other impairment. This could even be lethal in case of an old person whose renal function is less effective than a teenager.

Road Design Defects

Bad highway or road design is a major contributing factor in a car accident that causes injury or death. Studies suggest that about 34% of serious crashes were related to the non-standard roadways or the surrounding environment.

Regardless of the best efforts of civil engineers and road construction contractors, mistakes can and do happen. Traffic conditions and car design change over time, and sometimes road designs fail to comply with 21st century norms. Proof of poor or obsolete road design may include the following:

  • Lack of traffic control, for example, traffic signals or yield signs
  • Hazardous roadway conditions brought about by climate, for example, potholes
  • An intersection or strip of highway with a history of collisions
  • Lack of appropriate seepage, that leads to puddling or ice accumulation
  • Insufficient hindrances in the middle of north and southbound or east and westbound lanes
  • Lack of guardrails on curves or along steep embankments

Studies have shown that careful road design and its proper maintenance, with well-designed intersections, surfaces, visibility, and traffic control devices, can result in a significant plunge in crash rates.

Poor Vehicle Design and Lack of Maintenance

A well-designed and well-maintained vehicle, with good brakes, tires and suspension will be more controllable in an emergency and thus be better equipped to avoid collisions.

Vehicle owners must take due care of their automobiles in order to ensure the safety of its occupants.

A few instances of vehicle defects that can cause severe[ accidents are:

  • Defective Tires
  • Brake failure
  • Seat belt failure
  • Defective airbag
  • Rollovers causing catastrophic roof crush
  • Fires caused by design flaws or defective parts

Here are a few things that may assist drivers to know what to look out for in order to keep themselves, their co-passengers and the rest of the drivers on the road safe.

  • Make sure to check your tires visually each time you take a drive
  • Change worn or damaged tires. Ask a professional technician to inspect them if you can’t evaluate it by yourself
  • Check for proper brake operation before driving in traffic
  • Follow your maintenance schedule
  • Have an expert inspect your vehicle before the summer and winter driving seasons
  • If your car needs repair, DO NOT DELAY!

To know more, check out our Car Maintenance Guide for a detailed checklist!

Center of Gravity

Rollovers can be lethal, particularly if the co-passenger are ejected because they were not wearing seat belts. 83% of ejections during rollovers were fatal when the driver did not wear a seat belt, as opposed to 25% when they did.

Presently, about 40% of new vehicles, primarily the SUVs, vans and pickup trucks that are increasingly defenseless to roll over, are being created with a lower center of gravity and upgraded suspension with stability control to curtail the dangers of rollover.

Other Factors

You should also know about some of these subtle but dangerous causes that may lead to accidents:

  • Unfamiliarity with a new car’s dashboard, features, console or other interior devices
  • Lack of visibility due to sun glare or windshield design
  • Mechanical Malfunctions
  • Defective Car Parts
  • Traffic safety culture, a variety of aspects of safety culture could impact on the number of crashes.
  • Chain Reaction / Multi-Vehicle Accidents

Physical, Emotional and Psychological effects of Car Accidents

Physical Effect

It is critical to seek medical attention, if you have had an accident, in order to determine the level of damage. This is necessary as vehicle accidents can lead to both external and internal injuries, latter being more nocuous.

Noticeable Injuries

  1. Vehicle accidents can lead to either minor strains or disastrous fatalities.
  2. Whiplash is the most common injury that happens in car accidents. This is caused by a sudden movement of the neck.
  3. Other injuries include soft tissue damage that causes tears to the ligaments and tendons that take weeks to heal.

Some of these injuries heal with time whereas some result in permanent defects or disabilities.

Unnoticeable Injuries

Certain injuries are unnoticeable. A thorough medical examination is needed to find such injuries.

  1. Internal bleeding is one such example.
  2. Brain injury is also a common type of unnoticeable injury that may lead to extensive damages if not detected early. Some of the damages are:
    • Loss of Memory
    • Loss of sensation.
    • Partial or complete paralysis

Emotional and Psychological Effect

Anxiety is one of the most common emotional damages that follows an accident and should not be undermined. This can adversely affect your work and relationships. People suffering from anxiety get continual dreams and thoughts about the accident which makes their subsequent life difficult.

Other emotional effects of car accidents may include-

  • Insomnia
  • Hysteria
  • Appetite loss
  • Mood swings

The most serious psychological effect after a car accident is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. You would be surprised to learn that one of the leading causes of PTSD around the world is Car accidents.

PTSD has a devastating impact on a person’s ability to function normally in any sort of setting, whether it is at home, among friends or anything else. Patients show a wide range of symptoms, including shock, anger, nervousness and feelings of guilt or mistrust. This interferes with your day-to-day life, causing frequent nightmares.

Other psychological damages include stress-induced pain and pathophysiological effects which has a severe impact on nervous system and brain.

Consequences of Car Accidents

Economic Costs

Apart from the injuries, victims have to face the burden of economic costs that incorporates paying for vehicle repairs and medical expenses. This can be troublesome if the vehicle and the victim are not insured.

The direct and indirect costs that are involved are as follows:

  • Direct costs
    1.  Healthcare costs
    2.  Hospital Stays
    3.  Emergency visits
    4.  Transportation
  • Indirect costs
    1.  Police
    2.  Insurance administration
    3.  Property damage

These expenses can be much more for the one who was at fault. Don’t forget to take into account extra transportation costs if your vehicle has suffered irreparable damages.

Insurance

Car insurance can save you from a considerable amount of hassles that accompanies an accident. But are you thorough about what your car insurance covers and on what terms and conditions, if in case you encounter such an unfortunate incident?

This question is tough to answer as it depends on the specific language of your policy. Nevertheless, there are certain key facts that you should be aware of-

  • Your car insurance should protect you from claims based on accidents that are caused by negligence.
  • It may protect you in situations that involve car accidents caused by reckless driving. Though it’s not necessary that every country and insurer covers that.
  • It does not cover criminal conduct and hit and run cases
  • It does not cover drivers who are using a vehicle without authorization i.e. when the car is stolen.

Also, there is a chance that your insurance company will increase their premiums as soon as they get to know about it. This may be a huge increase irrespective of whether you were the cause of the accident or it’s your first accident.

In addition to this, the increase in premium may hamper your financial conditions since the increase will be in effect as long as the accident shows up[ in your records.

Legal Consequences

There are a number of legal consequences of causing a car accident. Few are given below:

  • Lawsuits: A driver who causes a car crash may be sued for damages that include damages to property and injuries to other people involved in the accident.
  • Criminal Prosecution: Serious driving misconduct, that includes impaired driving, alcohol and drug use may result in criminal charges against the driver. Convictions in case of alcohol offenses or drug use may result in the revocation or long term suspension of the driver’s license, mandatory drug or alcohol rehabilitation, and sometimes jail sentence.
  • Traffic Citations: Drivers who get involved in a car crash may receive one or more traffic citations for bad driving conduct such as failure to obey a traffic control device, speeding or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Convictions for traffic violations are usually penalized with fines.

Seven Important steps to be taken after an accident

1: Check for Injuries

Check yourself for self-injuries and if seriously injured, try not to move, and wait for emergency personals to arrive.

2: Check your Co-Passengers and Their Safety

Check other co-passengers in your car, if you are in a moving condition. If anyone’s injured, ask someone nearby witnessing the accident to call for help.

3: Get to a Safe Place

If you can get up, then move away from the vehicle if the car is in a dangerous situation. If the car is damaged but still safe enough to drive, then pull it to the side of the road. Leave it where it is if the car is not in a moving condition and get yourself to safety.

4: Call For Help

If you are conscious, call an emergency helpline number. This is very important no matter what the magnitude of the accident is. Based on the situation, you may have to call the police, ambulance or fire brigade.

Calling the police is important — and in some countries, it’s legally required. When you file for insurance claim settlement, insurers may ask for a copy of the police report to help with the claim settlement process.

5: Wait For Help

After calling emergency personals, turn on your indicator lights to warn other vehicles to slow down.

6: Capture Accident Information

After making sure you and other passengers are uninjured, exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver.

According to us, here’s the most important information drivers must collect after an accident:

  • Name and contact information of the other driver
  • The insurance company and policy number
  • Driver’s license and license plate number
  • Take pictures of the accident and note down the type, color and model of other vehicles
  • Location of accident
  • Identify the names of police officers who have arrived at the accident site and get a copy of the accident report
  • Collect information from witnesses nearby

7: Inform Your Insurer And Proceed for Claim Settlement

Make sure to call your insurance agent when you are at the crash scene. This way you can ensure to get all relevant information and documents that will be needed in order to process your insurance claim.

Eight Tips to Avoid Car Accidents

1: Watch Out for Red Light Sprinter

Look both ways and make sure nobody is attempting to speed through a yellow light. Count till three before entering a crossing point on a green light.

2: Slowly Pull into Traffic

Know about blind spots in your car, including those in rearview mirrors and behind windshield pillars. Also, when at an intersection making a right-hand turn, look both directions at least twice before moving ahead. Vehicles can show up all of a sudden, so be cautious when pulling into a busy intersection.

3: Look Backward when Pulling Out

Always look out for vehicles leaving parking spaces. Don’t just rely on mirrors. Look over your right shoulder while steering to alleviate blind spots mirrors can create.

4: Do Not Tailgate

When in a hurry, tailgating can lead to major accidents. That’s why it is advised to leave a three-second cushion between you and the car in front.

5: Be Courteous to Other Drivers

You don’t own the road, so treat other drivers with respect and report any reckless driving activity to the police authorities.

6: Keep at Least One Hand On The Steering Wheel

Sometimes distractions like changing radio channels, talking on cell phones, eating or any other reason that makes you take your hand off the wheel can cause serious issues. A pothole, gust of wind or a blown tire could send the car into another lane and cause a fatal accident.

7: Follow Your Car Maintenance Schedule

In order to avoid sudden stalls or other vehicle failures, ensure to change your car oil regularly and keep your tires properly inflated.

Click here to check our Car Maintenance guide.

8: Watch Your Kids/Pets (if you have any)

Children and animals have a tendency to pop out from between parked cars and into roadways. Children under the age of 12 should ride in the back seat. They should be properly restrained in an infant seat, child safety seat, or seat belt.

In case of a pet like a dog, help prevent it from moving around your vehicle freely with a step-in harness like the Ruff Rider Cainine Vehicle Restraint.

Conclusion

This article presents an in-depth analysis on car accidents and illustrates all possible damage control tools that you can adopt. We have tried to cover all the points that you should know before or after a major or minor accident. We genuinely hope that you never face such an untoward incident ever, but you cannot deny the inevitabilities and uncertainties that life offers. Better to be prepared well in advance.

Here’s to safe driving!

What else would you like to know about car accidents?

Let us know in the comment section below.


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