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Causes of Auto Accidents

Casey Woodruff

undefinedWhether you’re heading home from work on I-290 or are headed to a shopping center in Aurora, you could be at risk of being involved in an auto accident. What causes car accidents in the greater Chicago area? According to a report drafted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are numerous—and varied—causes of traffic collisions in Illinois and across the country. In order to prevent accidents and to hold those responsible liable for the injuries they’ve caused, it’s essential to understand the events that lead up to a dangerous automobile crash.

Background of the NHTSA Report

Looking at a 3-year period across the country, the NHTSA conducted a National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey (NMVCCS). The survey investigated nearly 7,000 crashes, and it determined accident causation in three primary ways:

  • Obtaining quick and “relatively undisturbed” access to information surrounding the accidents;
  • Discussing the circumstances of the crashes with those involved, speaking specifically with drivers, passengers, and other witnesses soon after the accidents took place; and
  • Immediately analyzing the links between the physical evidence at the scenes of the crashes with the descriptions and reports provided by the witnesses. 

Causation Facts and Figures for Car Accidents

In looking at various types of data, the survey produced some initial observations about accident types and accident causes. The NHTSA’s report found the following:

  • More than 40 percent of the accidents involved driver recognition errors. What are recognition errors? The NHTSA defines them broadly, including lack of attention generally, internal distractions, external distractions, and inadequate surveillance of the road and its conditions.
  • Approximately 34 percent of the accidents involved a driver making a decision error. For example, decision errors can include speeding, tailgating, and other forms of aggressive driving.
  • About 10 percent of the accidents involved drivers making performance errors, including but not limited to “overcompensation and improper directional control.”
  • Nearly 20 percent of the drivers who caused crashes were “engaged in at least one interior non-driving activity.” Interior non-driving activities include conversing with other passengers, changing the radio station, changing a route on a GPS device, or talking/texting on a cell phone. Most of us have heard these actions described as “distracted driving.”
  • Drowsy drivers are twice as likely as alert drivers to cause an accident because of a performance error.
  • Defective or improperly maintained vehicles themselves can also cause deadly car crashes. When a vehicle’s failure was attributed to the reasons for a crash, the survey found that brake system and tire assembly failures were among the most common.

To summarize, auto accidents frequently result from the following:

  • Aggressive driving;
  • Drowsy driving;
  • Distracted driving;
  • Failure to properly maintain an automobile; and
  • Defective automobile parts.

Preventing Fatal Auto Accidents in Naperville

In addition to improving driver behavior on the roadways, the NHTSA ultimately recommended a number of technological prevention tools for car accidents. For example, “vehicle-based countermeasures” could be used to “mitigate the effects of various driver performance, recognition, and decision errors.” In addition, Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) and other “onboard-warning systems that provide information on the condition of critical vehicle elements” could help to prevent crashes in the future.

In the meantime, if you or someone you love has been injured in a serious traffic collision, you should discuss your case with an experienced Naperville auto accident attorney at Woodruff Johnson & Evans today.

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