There are a wide variety of reasons why car accidents occur, but the most common causes in Houston include the following.
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Out of the 12 largest metropolitan areas per capita, Houston ranked first in the number of driving under the influence accidents between 2001 and 2016. Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, even prescription medication, can dramatically impair a person’s ability to drive safely. In addition, driving while impaired often leads to increased risk-taking, such as speeding, failing to wear a seat belt, and reckless maneuvers.
Drugs and alcohol can give a false sense of confidence, so a driver will have difficulty keeping their attention and concentration on the road, and their judgment is impaired. Vision and hearing are also often altered, and reaction times are slower, Drivers have poor physical coordination, and they may feel drowsy. Intoxicated drivers with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of over 0.10 are seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than sober drivers.
Traveling above the posted speed limit or too fast for roadway conditions are leading causes of car accidents and traffic fatalities in Houston and across the country. In 2019, speeding contributed to close to 9,500 fatalities. The higher the speed, the more forceful the impact and the risk of severe or deadly injuries for all involved.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), nine people die in distracted driving accidents every day. Getting distracted, even if it’s only for a split second, can cause a catastrophic accident. Distractions while driving can be broken down into these three categories:
Visual distractions: Cause you to look away from the road.
Manual distractions: Require you to take a hand off the steering wheel.
Cognitive distractions: Anything that causes you to lose focus on the task of driving.
Common types of distractions include the use of cell phones, eating, daydreaming, children in the backseat, talking to passengers, using GPS, changing the music, etc.
Aggressive driving can involve a combination of reckless behaviors, such as speeding, weaving through traffic, abrupt and unsignaled lane changes, failing to yield the right-of-way, disobeying traffic signs and signals, and others. All of these behaviors can easily cause an unexpected collision with another driver.
According to the National Safety Council, drowsy drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a collision. While driving tired is not specifically against the law, it can cause behaviors similar to driving while impaired. For example, drowsy drivers can accidentally drift into another lane of traffic, run a stop sign or red light, follow too closely, etc.
Dangerous road conditions often contribute to collisions, especially when drivers do not adjust their speed or increase their following distance. Wet roads and inclement weather, such as snow or heavy winds, construction zones, missing or confusing road signs, faded lines, potholes, and more, can be dangerous for drivers and increase the chance of a collision.