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Why Are Car Accidents on the Rise? 5 Reasons and How to Reverse the Trend

kokou adzo

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Driving used to be a routine part of daily life. Now, for many, it induces a nagging sense of dread. News headlines highlight rising traffic fatalities, and we witness close calls during our own commutes.

The latest statistics confirm our fears. In 2021, around 42,915 people died in car crashes, with approximately 5.4 million others injured. This devastating toll represents lost lives, shattered families, and immense costs for our communities. So, what’s fueling this dangerous surge in accidents, and how can we reclaim a sense of safety on our roads?

This blog post examines why cars keep crashing. Distracted driving, speeding, dangerous road conditions—we’ll dissect them all. We’ll also explore solutions, from simple changes in our driving habits to large-scale infrastructure improvements. 

5 Alarming Causes of the Car Accident Crisis

Let’s understand the top reasons behind this dangerous trend, from common driver errors to hidden hazards in our infrastructure: 

1: Distracted Driving

Ask yourself: What’s the most dangerous thing you can do behind the wheel? Speeding or drunk driving? The scary truth is that it might be as ordinary as glancing at your phone. Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents across the United States.

Nationwide, around 3000 people die in car accidents every year due to distracted driving. These aren’t abstract numbers – they’re sons and daughters who never came home, parents injured on the way to work, and lives forever altered.

Distracted driving takes your focus away from the task at hand. This includes:

 

  • Visual distractions: Take your eyes off the road, even for a second.

 

  • Manual distractions: Take your hands off the wheel to text, eat, change the radio, etc.

 

  • Cognitive distractions: Letting your mind wander, becoming deep in conversation or lost in thought.

Many think we can handle a glance at our phones or adjust the GPS without danger. But consider this: at 55 mph, you travel almost the length of a football field in five seconds approx. That’s how long you’re effectively driving blindfolded if you look away to read a text.

It’s easy to blame teens or reckless drivers, but distracted driving affects people of all ages and demographics. Exhausted parents, busy professionals, and even the safest drivers make mistakes when their focus slips.

2: Over Speeding

We live in a fast-paced world; sometimes, that urgency spills into our driving. But there’s a crucial difference between rushing to an appointment and intentionally exceeding the speed limit. Speeding tickets are annoying, but the real dangers go far beyond fines.

Speeding is a significant factor in car crashes across the nation. In 2022, speeding contributed to 12,151 deaths – a staggering 29% of all traffic fatalities.

Many speeders tell themselves, “I’m a good driver; I can handle it.” But even skilled drivers make mistakes when an animal darts out, or a child chases a ball into the street. Speeding reduces your reaction time, and those extra seconds could be the difference between life and death.

3: Road Conditions/Infrastructure

We tend to blame drivers for car crashes, and they bear responsibility. However, even the safest drivers sometimes fall victim to dangerous road conditions. From confusing layouts to neglected maintenance, our infrastructure is failing in ways that put lives at risk.

Confusing signage, blind corners, and poorly designed intersections contribute to crashes. Consider the New Halls Ferry Road in St. Louis, Missouri, a corridor notorious for its danger. 

Police reports indicate 112 accidents in 2023, with 15 already occurring in 2024.  While some blame reckless driving, the intersections create hazardous situations where even cautious drivers can become crash victims. 

Car accidents are frequent on this road stretch, and the problem has persisted for years. Injuries sustained in these crashes are often severe, as confirmed by TorHoerman Law. Head and brain injuries are the most common outcome, highlighting the devastating nature of accidents in St. Louis.

If this happens to you or someone you love, you might have legal options. A skilled car accident lawyer in St. Louis can help you determine if the road design, intersections, or lack of maintenance played a role and fight to get you the compensation you deserve.

4: Impaired Driving

Getting behind the wheel after drinking or using drugs is never an accident. It’s a choice, and sadly, far too many people make the wrong choice. We all know drunk driving is terrible, but what about just having a few drinks?

The science is precise: any amount of alcohol impairs the skills needed for safe driving. Your reaction time slows, making it harder to avoid hazards. Judging distances, staying in your lane, and making sound decisions at intersections become more complex.

Sadly, impaired driving is a leading cause of fatal crashes nationwide. Every 39 minutes, one alcohol-impaired driving fatality occurs. Over the last decade, about 10,850 people died each year due to drunk driving car accidents.

Impairment isn’t just about alcohol anymore. The legalization of marijuana in some states, along with the widespread abuse of prescription and illicit drugs, makes our roads more dangerous than ever. Each substance affects drivers differently, diminishing the ability to drive safely.

Don’t trust your judgment if you’ve been drinking or using any substance. Impairment begins long before you feel entirely drunk or high. Don’t gamble with your life or the lives of others. Take a cab, call a rideshare, or find a sober driver.

5: Driver Fatigue/Drowsiness

We focus a lot on distracted and drunk driving, and for good reason. But there’s another serious threat on the road that often goes overlooked: drowsy driving. Driving a vehicle while tired is far more dangerous than most people realize. According to the National Safety Council, around 6,400 people die each year due to drowsy driving.

Unlike alcohol impairment, you might not “feel” the effects of exhaustion until it’s too late. Signs of drowsy driving mirror those of intoxication:

  • Difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open

 

  • Drifting out of your lane or missing your exit

 

  • Trouble recalling the last few miles driven

 

  • Daydreaming or having wandering thoughts

 

Drowsy driving crashes are preventable. Pull over and rest if you struggle to stay awake while driving. Even a short nap can make a significant difference. Remember, getting to your destination safely is always more important than quickly.

FAQs

Why Are There So Many Car Accidents in America?

America experiences a high rate of car accidents due to several key factors. Distracted driving, especially from cell phone use, is a primary culprit. Speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and reckless behaviors also significantly contribute to accidents.

Which U.S. State Has the Most Accidents?

Texas typically has the most accidents due to its large population and road network. However, when considering accidents per capita (accidents relative to population), Mississippi often holds the unfortunate top spot. 

Which Country Has the Least Car Accidents?

Among larger countries, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland consistently have the safest roads worldwide. Small nations like Monaco or the Federated States of Micronesia have meager rates of car accidents due to their size and limited number of vehicles.

3 Ways We Can Reverse the Trend of Rising Car Accidents

We understand the reasons behind rising crash rates, but now it’s time to take action for safer roads. Here’s how:

1: Changing Driving Culture

Most crashes stem from drivers’ choices. Campaigns like “Buckle Up, Phone Down” are a start, but we need a more profound shift. Let’s promote that safe driving is a moral obligation, not just about avoiding tickets. We must empower friends and family to call out risky behaviors.

2: Build Better Infrastructure

Roads shouldn’t be danger zones. We must invest in innovative, safer designs that equally prioritize pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles. Features like roundabouts, clear signage, and separated lanes all save lives.

3: Community Power

Safer roads require community effort. Report hazards like potholes and malfunctioning signs to the proper authorities. Neighborhood groups can advocate for safety audits or lower speed limits in residential areas.

Kokou Adzo is the editor and author of Startup.info. He is passionate about business and tech, and brings you the latest Startup news and information. He graduated from university of Siena (Italy) and Rennes (France) in Communications and Political Science with a Master's Degree. He manages the editorial operations at Startup.info.

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