What Every Driver Needs to Know About Car Accidents
Understanding the Basics of Why Car Accidents Occur and Why They Are So Dangerous
Since the invention of cars, driving has become one of the most cherished conveniences that we have the privilege of using. Although driving is a major convenience in our modern lives, there’s always the chance of an inconvenient car accident. It is likely that everyone will be involved in a motor vehicle accident at some point in their life; and not everyone walks away with a minor inconvenience, some don’t walk away at all.
Driving defensively, understanding the basics of car accidents, and knowing the possible dangers can increase your chances of avoiding a severe crash. Here’s what every driver should know:
What Types of Road Dangers Cause Car Accidents?
One of the most common causes of car accidents are road dangers that are beyond a driver’s control.
These circumstances may not be avoidable, but how you drive in these situations can be. Always remember to stay alert and avoid distracted driving and you’ll be more than ahead of the game when it comes to ensuring you and your family’s safety.
These hazards include everything from natural occurrences to man-made hazards like construction zones. The following is a list of road dangers that can cause accidents:
- Bad Weather
In Florida, rain is as unavoidable as snow in the Alps. It is just a normal part of our climate, that unfortunately, often means slippery roads for drivers. On average, wet roads cause 860,286 crashes a year which accounts for 15% of vehicle crashes.
- Road Design
Roads that are not designed effectively can put drivers at risk. For example, curvy roads and slopes that can cause a driver to lose control
- Road Maintenance
From potholes to cracks, vehicles that encounter obstacles in the road can blow out a tire causing the driver to lose control.
- Malfunctioning Traffic Lights
Unsuspecting drivers that may come upon traffic lights or signals that are not working correctly can cause a serious accident. For example, when the power goes out or traffic lights are flashing.
- Construction Zones
When driving through work zones, it’s crucial for drivers to be alerted with proper signage and warnings before they get within close distance to the road construction site. Any machinery or barriers ahead without forewarning could be a potential accident waiting to happen.
- Other Roadside Obstacles
Not having a clear view while driving can increase the risk of an accident. Utility poles, odd placement of signs, overgrown roadside bushes and vegetation are all potential hazards.
Vehicle Maintenance and the Impact on Road Safety
You can’t control how other people maintain their vehicles. If a motorist fails to keep their car up to standard, breakdowns and malfunctions can happen, putting other drivers at risk and causing all types of auto accidents.
Here are some common vehicle maintenance problems that can cause a Florida car accident:
Worn-out Brakes cause Accidents
Brakes are critical to road safety. Common reasons for brake failure may include:
- Moisture in brakes
- Defective brake hose
- Brake pad overheating
- Low or leaking brake fluid
- Manufacturer defects and faulty parts
Broken Headlights Cause Accidents
Headlights are often overlooked for regular maintenance. Malfunctioning or dirty headlights can limit your visibility and driving at night can only make matters worse. Check your lights frequently to ensure they are in proper working order.
Worn-out or Damaged Tires cause Accidents
An unexpected tire blowout can cause a driver to lose control of their car, which can easily lead to an accident. Common reasons for tire blowouts can include:
- High tire pressure
- Vehicle overload
- Driving over a pothole
- Driving over glass, nails or other objects that can cause a puncture
- Improper alignment
- Worn-down tread
How Vehicle Defects Can Cause Accidents
It’s always exciting when you purchase a new vehicle, but when it comes with defects, not only does it put a damper on your excitement, your safety on the road can be put at risk. When a part on a car or other motor vehicle malfunctions, it known as Product Liability Cases.
Common Defective Products In Vehicles
- Fuel systems
- Vehicle computers
How Vehicle Defects Can Cause Accidents
There are millions of recalls each year, and defective products in vehicles can cause a host of dangers to both the driver and the passenger. Drivers who may not be aware of certain defects are at an increased risk for injury or worse, death. For example, a faulty airbag that does not deploy or deploys too forcefully can cause the following injuries:
- Brain injuries
- Eye injuries
- Broken bones
What is Product Liability?
Anyone who has been injured due to a vehicle defect may be entitled to a product liability claim. The following are the three types of product liability.
- Design Defects – Product designs that may be deemed unreasonably dangerous
- Manufacturing Defects – Product flaws due to production errors
- Marketing Defects – This happens when a manufacturer knows about certain defects but does not give the consumer ample warning, or if the product is not labeled with sufficient instructions.
Drunk Driving and Car Accidents
Even though most people understand what the ramifications can be for drinking and driving, people are hurt or killed in car accidents every day. Drunk driving combined with other dangers on the road only compounds the likelihood of a serious or deadly car accident.
What is the Dram Shop Liability?
The state of Florida has implemented the Dram Shop Act that holds social hosts and restaurants/bars liable for accidents caused by individuals who became intoxicated in their home or establishment. Anyone who is injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver that came from any of the locations as mentioned earlier could file for additional damages. Family members may also be able to file a suit if a loved one has died in a drunk driving accident.
How Drivers Are Impaired After Drinking
A driver who decides to get in their car after drinking alcohol puts themselves and others in harm’s way. Alcohol can impair the following:
- Reaction time
How Drivers Get Distracted on the Road
Drivers who are distracted increase their risk of causing a car accident. Unlike certain road dangers, distracted driving can be avoidable. Some common distractions include:
Cell Phone Use While Driving
Texting or talking on the phone while driving is one of the most common causes of car accidents and in the state of Florida and it is illegal.
Taking Eyes Off The Road while Driving
Whether attending to children arguing in the backseat or peering at a broken down vehicle, taking eyes off the road for five seconds at 55 miles per hour equates to driving the length of a football field practically with your eyes closed.
Eating or Drinking While Driving
Eating or drinking a beverage while driving means you have to take your hands off the steering wheel. Even though cup holders may be convenient for keeping your drink within reach, it’s best to save your sips for when your car is in park or when you reach your destination.
Conversations While Driving
When you are having a conversation while driving it is a mild distraction but in some cases, intense conversations can significantly increase car accident risk. Impassioned conversations while behind the wheel can draw attention from the task of driving.
Many people on their way to work or some other engagement will try to multitask and apply their makeup while they are driving. This takes at least one hand to do; one hand that should be put to the task of holding the steering wheel.
Drivers can be distracted by things that occur on the side of the road. A common situation is drivers that pass by a car accident end up being involved in an accident themselves because they are distracted. This is called rubbernecking, named after the straining of the neck a person does when trying to view distractions outside of their vehicle.
Almost everyone listens to music or some sort of audio entertainment when driving. This can sometimes end up being a distraction when they go to adjust the controls to switch songs or volume. Sometimes people can get carried away when singing as well to the point that it becomes a distraction.
Reading Directions or GPS
GPS and mapping apps have made traveling in unfamiliar places much easier but they can be considered a driving distraction. It is best to have these set up beforehand to read directions outloud with a passenger acting as a navigator as the best option.
Seek an Experienced Car Accident Injury Attorney
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries sustained. Don’t hesitate to speak to the attorneys of Viles & Beckman about your case. Our attorneys can provide you with valuable insight as to how you can seek compensation for the damages you have suffered because of a car accident injury. Don’t attempt to handle a car accident claim on your own. Allow an experienced attorney to help you with your case. Our attorneys can provide you with the skills and resources necessary to negotiate a fair settlement, handle the filing of your claim, deal with the insurance company, and investigate the circumstances of your claim. When you hire the attorneys of Viles & Beckman, you are not only hiring a firm with experience and a track record of successful claims for many satisfied clients, but you are also hiring an ally that will work with you through every step of your claim or lawsuit.
Contact Viles & Beckman, LLC by calling (239) 334-3933 or through our online form to get a free, no-obligation case evaluation. Our experienced personal injury attorneys can answer all of your questions and explain your rights.
About the Author of this Page: The above information was written or reviewed by one of the attorneys at Viles & Beckman LLC who have a combined experience of nearly 60 years: Marcus Viles, Michael Beckman or Maria Alaimo. The information provided in this article comes from years of experience trying legal cases outside and inside courtrooms throughout Florida along with extensive research.