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Accidents - how are they caused?

We all want to drive more safely so that we can protect our loved ones, ourselves, and members of the general public and to do this it is very helpful if we know just what it is that causes accidents, so that we can avoid falling into similar situations ourselves. Our roads may be statistically safer than they have ever been, but there are still hundreds of thousands of people injured every year, tens of thousands seriously injured and thousands killed and the sad fact is that a very large proportion of the accidents that caused these casualties were avoidable; they were caused by errors or by people doing those things that they should not be doing, whether driver or pedestrian. According to recently released government statistics, as many as four out of five accidents were caused by driving errors, such as driving at a speed in excess of speed limits, driving too fast for local conditions, failing to take sufficient care when coming out of junctions, or driving too closely to the vehicle in front. Younger drivers, particularly testosterone fuelled males were far more likely to behave badly on the roads, and were involved in a disproportionately high number of accidents involving fatalities. The most dangerous time for young drivers to be on the road was found to be between midnight and 6 a.m. at weekends; the consumption of alcohol was a regular factor, even where the quantity consumed was not above the legal limits.

The statistics indicated that there are a number of steps that we can all take to make the roads a safer place; here are a few of the main ones:

Many of us have an over confident belief in our own driving abilities and the main key to cutting down our own risk of having a serious accident is quite simply to accept that we are only human and drive more carefully within the accepted rules; fair enough most of us may exceed the speed limit sometimes but we should be aware that every time we do so we make it more likely that we could hurt ourselves, those we care about and others. Younger drivers in particular should be aware that with youth there also comes inexperience; they may firmly believe that they are quite capable of driving at 90 miles an hour within 6 feet of the bumper of the car in front but the simple fact is that even the most expert driver is a potential killer in these circumstances and the consequences of the slightest misjudgement could be catastrophic.
Pedestrians get injured too in car accidents but in one in six of adult accidents the pedestrian was initially hidden from the car driver involved just before the accident occurred, and when child pedestrians were knocked down this proportion rose to around one in four. Children need to be taught from a very early age indeed that running out onto the road from behind a parked car can be very dangerous indeed; and there are quite a few adults who need to be reminded of this fact as well!

One of the most common statement put out by road safety authorities is "Speed Kills". The fact is that statistics showed that excessive speed alone was a major factor in around 25% of serious accidents, and 31% of those which involved fatalities. Notwithstanding the speed limits, we would all be much safer if we drove within the limits of our vehicles and ourselves at all times; just because a legal limit may be 70 miles an hour does not mean to say that it would be sensible to do that speed at night in heavy rain and busy traffic!

Finally, 33% of all fatal accidents were blamed on loss of control of the vehicle. Whilst there were a number of contributory factors that could have caused this, such as debris on the road or sudden emergencies, the majority of causes were down to driver error, whether caused by alcohol or drugs impairment, lack of attention, excessive speed or just plain bad behaviour. A good case could be put forward for every driver to take a course on a skid pan; losing control of the vehicle because of excessive speed over ice or a wet road can be a terrifying experience but an ability to react instinctively to guide a vehicle out of a skid could be a lifesaver. Perhaps there is a skid pan facility in your area?
Despite all these statistics the vast majority of us will enjoy our driving and get home safely; but by knowing what the potential dangers are we have a much greater chance of avoiding them. Drive safely!

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