Human Factors Causing Car Accidents

Most car crashes are not caused by auto defects or road hazards but by human factors causing car accidents, which is driver negligence. For example, the at-fault driver might have been checking a cellphone for a message, driving under the influence of alcohol, or simply driving too fast.

The car accident attorneys at the Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers have recovered tens of millions of dollars for car accident victims injured by careless and negligent drivers. Even if it seems obvious that another driver was recklessly operating a vehicle and caused an accident, you need a skilled and experienced attorney to gather evidence to prove your case and obtain the total compensation available under the law.

On average, about a dozen car accidents occur on the streets of Boston every day. Here is a list of some common types of car accident cases that we tend to see in our office. In some instances, two or more of these human factors may have played a role in a crash.

Distracted driving: According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in 2019. NHTSA explains that distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention away from driving, such as talking or texting on a cellphone, eating and drinking, playing around with a stereo or entertainment system, or even talking to people in your car.

Distracted driving is on the rise with the use of cellphones and other compact technology devices. Drivers take their eyes off of the road for five seconds when reading or sending a text. That five-second window of inattention is enough to cause a catastrophic crash. Young drivers are more likely to text and drive. In Massachusetts, it is illegal for a driver to hold a cellphone or any electronic device while driving, except in an emergency (using a device in hands-free mode is permitted).

Speeding: When motorists are driving too fast, they have less time to react. That means less time to stop or react, to avoid a crash. In addition, speeding vehicles may blast through guardrails, median dividers and other road safety structures designed to protect vehicle occupants in a collision. Crashes involving a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed tend to be more severe, resulting in more serious injuries to vehicle occupants.

The National Safety Council reports that speeding played a role in 26% of all traffic fatalities in 2019, killing nearly 9,500 people, or an average of 25 people a day. Vehicle crashes are classified as speed-related if the driver was charged with racing or a speeding-related event, driving too fast for road conditions, or exceeding the posted speed limit. The good news is that speeding-related deaths have been on the decline since the early 2000s.

Young drivers and male drivers are more likely to be involved in speeding-related crashes, with male drivers ages 16 to 24 most likely to be speeding at the time of a fatal crash. Speeding-related crashes are more likely to occur on dirt or gravel roads, roads covered in snow or ice, or roads containing areas of standing water. They are also more likely to happen at night and on weekends.

Drunk or drugged driving: A person driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a hazard to all road users. NHTSA reports that about 28 Americans die in drunk-driving crashes every day and that more than 10,000 people died in drunk-driving crashes in 2019. According to the agency, approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers.

Alcohol and drugs can impact a driver's reaction time, motor control, and judgment. For example, marijuana can slow a person's reaction time and decrease coordination, while certain prescription medications, such as opioids, can cause drowsiness and dizziness. In contrast, methamphetamines and cocaine can lead to aggressive and reckless driving. A person who mixes alcohol and drugs can experience a more intense reaction and side effects. Drivers who are weaving, crossing road lines, or otherwise engaging in erratic driving may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. After a crash, these drivers may be unsteady on their feet, slurring their words, or smell of alcohol. Drunk driving has been on the decline, but drugged driving rates have been increasing because of the legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts and other states, the national opioid crisis, and other factors.

Fatigue: Fatigued driving is a real problem. Drivers who fail to get enough sleep or sufficient quality sleep can experience driving impairment like a driver who has been drinking alcohol. NHTSA says there were 697 drowsy-driving-related crashes in 2019. Truck drivers and other individuals who work long hours or do shiftwork are at an increased risk of driver fatigue. In addition, certain health problems, such as sleep disorders or medications, can cause drowsiness behind the wheel. As a result, fatigued drivers may nod off while driving, react more slowly to others on the road, make poor decisions, or drift from their lane. All these actions can cause catastrophic crashes.

Crashes involving drowsy drivers most often occur between midnight and 6 a.m. or in the late afternoon. People experience dips in their circadian rhythm, the internal clock regulating sleep, during these hours. In addition, fatigued driving accidents tend to occur on highways and rural roads.

Errors in judgment: Drivers who make errors in judgment are also responsible for causing car accidents. For example, they may drive too fast for road conditions, miscalculate a turn, or think they have time to make it through a light before it turns red. In addition, these drivers may drive too close to vehicles or make an error when merging into traffic. When drivers do not leave adequate space between themselves and other cars on the road, accidents are sure to happen. These accidents have the potential to impact multiple vehicles on the road.

Aggressive driving and road rage: Driving behaviors such as speeding, tailgating, frequent lane changing, and laying on the horn, are all considered forms of aggressive driving. These driving behaviors can cause series and fatal crashes.

Various factors, including traffic congestion, cause aggressive driving. People running late for work, school or an appointment may drive aggressively to avoid being tardy. Boston is notorious for its congested, slow-moving streets, and as a result, sees its fair share of aggressive drivers. People in cars are shielded by glass and steel and separated from the world outside their vehicles. This sense of anonymity can cause drivers to detach and engage in uncharacteristic behavior. While most motorists rarely drive aggressively, others drive this way most of the time.

Incidents of aggressive driving have increased in recent years. Some researchers say there are more drivers on the road than ever before and that this is responsible for the increase in aggressive driving and road rage incidents. For safety reasons, steer clear of aggressive drivers whenever possible and call the police if you believe that a driver is following you or harassing you.

Inexperienced drivers: Young drivers just learning to drive are often the cause of car crashes. These drivers may change lanes or turn without signaling or might not know the rules of the road. They also have poor judgment skills and are more prone to risky behavior. In addition, young drivers may be overconfident and more prone to dangerous behaviors such as speeding and drunk or drugged driving. Drivers under 20 years of age are nearly three times more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident than older drivers. Male teenage drivers and teen drivers with teen passengers are also more likely to be involved in fatal accidents.

Older drivers: Older drivers are another high-risk group. Senior drivers often have health problems and take prescription medications that can impact their driving. It is not unusual for an elderly driver to drive through a red light or stop sign, drive too slowly, make improper turns in front of bicycle riders, or fail to yield to pedestrians. Because of poor eyesight or other factors, they may misjudge distances or make improper lane changes. Motorists 70 years of age and older have higher fatal crash rates per mile traveled when compared to middle-aged drivers. Today, more older drivers are on the road than ever before; however, they are less likely to be involved in fatal collisions than in previous years. Senior drivers often limit their driving by traveling fewer miles and avoiding driving at night or in poor weather conditions.

To learn how our attorneys can help with a car accident claim, contact Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers today at (617) 777-7777 or use our online contact form.

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